New Trial Date Set in James Campbell Case

 An October trial date has been set for the owner of a Knox business destroyed by fire last March, but that may change.

A jury last month in Starke County Recycling owner James Campbell’s arson trial deadlocked after 12 hours of deliberations. Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ryan and Campbell’s attorneys agreed to set aside two weeks for a new trial starting Oct. 19. However Campbell’s attorney says he has not been paid yet and may withdraw as counsel if payment isn’t made within 30 days. If that happens a new trial date will be set. Campbell was ordered to appear at the next status conference on May 27.

Plea Hearing Set in Attempted Murder Case

Benton Chrisopher Howard

Benton Christopher Howard

A plea hearing has been set in Starke Circuit Court for a man accused of stabbing a Knox resident in the early morning hours of Sunday, Nov. 30.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, Benton Christopher Howard and Brandon Davidson got into an argument at a home in Knox which escalated to a physical confrontation. Howard allegedly unsheathed a knife and stabbed Davidson in the chest. Davidson was taken to the hospital with a collapsed lung and damage to his heart.

Howard is charged with attempted murder as a Level 1 felony and aggravated battery as a Level 3 felony.

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Status Hearing Set for Arson Defendant

  The owner of a Knox business destroyed by fire last March is due back in Starke Circuit Court next week for a status hearing. James Campbell owns Starke County Recycling, C&C Salvage and Campbell’s Tire Barn on U.S. 35 just south of Toto Road and is accused of setting the buildings on fire. Continue reading

Katrina Schoeder Sentenced in Starke Circuit Court

 A woman was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to a felony charge in Starke Circuit Court.

Katrina Schoeder pleaded guilty in a plea agreement with the state to a charge of maintaining a common nuisance as a Level 6 felony. She was sentenced per the terms of that agreement to 18 months in the Indiana Department of Corrections with all of the sentence suspended to be served on probation.

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Surgery Delays Murder Trial, Prompts Reevaluation of Jail Medical Contract

  A murder trial scheduled to start April 13 in Starke Circuit Court has been pushed back to at least July so the defendant can have surgery deemed medically necessary by a provider under contract with the county. Gary Chavez is accused of beating his estranged wife, Kimberly Chavez, to death at their rural California Township home last June. From there police say he drove to Mark Bailey’s Discount Center, kidnapped an employee and drove to English Lake where he’s accused of stealing a second vehicle. Chavez then led police on a high-speed chase into LaPorte and Porter Counties, according to court records. He’s accused of stealing a third vehicle in Kouts and continuing into Lake County. Police there say Chavez shot himself in the face when officers in Crown Point managed to stop his vehicle. He was airlifted to a Chicagoland area hospital and released to the custody of the Starke County Sheriff last August. Chavez remains in jail. Continue reading

Accused Child Molester Remains Jailed on $35,000 Bond

  A 25-year-old Knox man who is accused of trying to molest a preschooler in February of 2013 remains jailed on a $35,000 surety bond. Magistrate Jeanene Calabrese denied a request to lower Luther Nies’ bond or release him on his own recognizance during his initial appearance in Starke Circuit Court this morning. Continue reading

Nies to Appear for Initial Hearing

Luther Nies

Luther Nies

A Knox man accused of felony attempted child seduction and child solicitation is scheduled to appear in Starke Circuit Court today for an initial hearing.

Luther Nies, 25, was arrested on a warrant Wednesday morning on the charges that stem from alleged actions in Feb. 2013. According to court documents, Nies attempted to molest a five-year-old child. Knox City Police Department officers placed Nies into custody without incident and he remains in the Starke County Jail on a $35,000 surety bond.

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Arson Trial Ends With Hung Jury

After nearly 12 hours of deliberation the jury in the arson trial of a Knox businessman was unable to reach a verdict. Starke Circuit Judge Kim Hall declared a mistrial in State v. James Campbell at 12:14 a.m. due to the jury being an impasse and deadlocked. They began deliberations at 12:30 p.m. Continue reading

Testimony Concludes in Salvage Yard Arson Trial

The fate of a Knox man accused of setting his businesses on fire will soon be in the hands of a jury. The defense in James Campbell’s arson trial rested at 4:16 p.m. Tuesday after calling three witnesses. The first, a former ATF agent turned fire investigation consultant, questioned whether the fire that destroyed Campbell’s Tire Barn, Starke County Recycling and C&C Salvage on U.S. 35 south of Toto Road last March was deliberately set. Mike Vergon has operated a private fire investigation practice in Indianapolis for the past two-and-a-half years. He visited the burned out business on June 23 and Oct. 2 of last year. Vergon testified burn patterns don’t help with origin and cause determinations with damage as extensive as what he saw and said it’s his opinion the cause cannot be determined without good witness corroboration. Continue reading

Testimony Puts Salvage Yard Owner at Business Minutes Before Fire

Video evidence introduced in the arson trial of a Knox businessman indicates he was the last person to leave the property and did so minutes before the first smoke was visible. James Campbell owns Starke County Recycling, Campbell’s Tire Barn and C&C Salvage on U.S. 35 south of Toto Road in Knox. The businesses caught fire just after 5 p.m. on March 20, 2014. Then-Chief Investigator Kenny Pfost from the Starke County Sheriff’s Department testified Campbell left the business at 4:59 p.m. and pulled into his driveway next door. He left his house at 5:02 p.m., and the first smoke was spotted on the video 40-seconds later. Video also indicates two employees left just before Campbell did. Continue reading

Final State’s Witnesses Scheduled to Testify in Arson Trial

The final witnesses for the state are set to testify today in the arson trial of a Knox businessman. James Campbell is accused of setting fire to the buildings that housed his tire shop and recycling center at the corner of U.S. 35 and Toto Road last March. On Friday Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ryan indicated she plans to call three additional witnesses. The witnesses for the defense will testify tomorrow, and closing arguments are anticipated on Wednesday. Campbell is charged with arson as a Class A felony and faces between 20 and 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if convicted. Continue reading

Investigators Testify in Salvage Yard Arson Trial

The arson trial of a Knox man whose business went up in flames a year ago yesterday will resume Monday morning. A pair of investigators from the state fire marshal’s office testified in James Campbell’s trial yesterday. They both took part in the investigation in the fire that destroyed the buildings Campbell owns at the intersection of U.S. 35 and Toto Road which were home to C&C Salvage, Starke County Recycling and Campbell’s Tire Barn and Shop. Both agree the fires were set and started in two areas of the shop. Continue reading

Fire Investigator Testifies in Arson Trial

A fire investigator who looked into the cause an origin of the fire that destroyed a Knox business a year ago says it started in two separate spots. Larry Cooper was hired by the insurance company for Starke County Recycling, also known as C&C Salvage. Owner James Campbell is on trial for arson. Continue reading

Firefighters Testify in Arson Trial

The first firefighters to arrive at the scene of a blaze at a Knox business testified yesterday in the arson trial of its owner. James Campbell is accused of setting fire to his salvage yard and tire shop on U.S. 35 at Toto Road last March 20st. Barry Sanders from the Bass Lake Fire Department was the first to arrive. He showed up in his personal vehicle with his sons about five minutes after the notification went out. Sanders was recovering from shoulder surgery but still came out to assist. He testified his concern was for Campbell’s house, which is located just south of the salvage yard. Sanders said he knocked loudly on the doors and windows for several minutes until the heat drove him away, and nobody answered. Earlier witnesses testified Campbell was at the shop until around 5 p.m. Firefighters were notified at 5:17 p.m., according to dispatch records. Continue reading

Testimony Resumes Today in Salvage Yard Arson Trial

The state will call more witnesses today in the arson trial of a Knox man accused of setting his business on fire. James Campbell owns C&C Salvage, also known as Starke County Recycling, at the intersection of U.S. 35 and Toto Road. The business caught fire last March 20, and Campbell was arrested eight days later on an arson charge. The state’s first witness was a mechanic named Tim Graves, who worked for Campbell for two weeks prior to the fire. He testified Campbell sent him out to get seven gallons of gas and a 50-foot extension cord about two hours before the fire started. Continue reading

State Appeals Court Upholds Starke Circuit Court Conviction

 The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld a Knox man’s conviction on a drug charge from 2013. A jury found Alfred Higdon guilty of possession of methamphetamine as a Class D felony. He was sentenced to three years in prison. Higdon’s appeal claims the trial court erroneously admitted evidence that was the product of an illegal search by law enforcement. Continue reading

First Witnesses Testify in Salvage Yard Arson Trial

The first two witnesses for the state have testified in the arson trial of a Knox man accused of setting his business on fire. James Campbell owns C&C Salvage, also known as Starke County Recycling, at the intersection of U.S. 35 and Toto Road. The business caught fire last March 20, and Campbell was arrested eight days later on an arson charge. The state’s first witness was a mechanic named Tim Graves, who worked for Campbell for two weeks prior to the fire. He testified Campbell sent him out to get seven gallons of gas and a 50-foot extension cord about two hours before the fire started. Continue reading

Jury Seated in C&C Salvage Arson Trial

A jury of eight men and six women will hear testimony in the C&C Salvage arson trial in Starke Circuit Court. Attorneys for the state and defendant James Campbell spent yesterday screening prospective jurors and finally settled on a panel of 12 with two alternates around 5:20 p.m. The scrap yard south of Knox at the intersection of U.S. 35 and Toto Road caught fire on March 20, 2014. Firefighters from eight local departments responded and spent several hours battling the blaze. One firefighter from the Bass Lake Fire Department was injured. Campbell owns the business. He was arrested eight days later on a charge of arson as a Class A felony. If convicted he faces between 20 and 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Continue reading

Arson Trial Set to Start in Starke Circuit Court

Almost a year after a set fire destroyed a Knox business the owner is scheduled to stand trial in Starke Circuit Court. James Campbell owns C&C Salvage on U.S. 35 just south of Toto Road. It caught fire on March 20. The Bass Lake, Knox-Center Township, Hamlet, Washington Township, Koontz Lake, North Judson-Wayne Township, San Pierre and Monterey Fire Departments all responded to the blaze and spent several hours getting it under control. One firefighter was injured. Black smoke was visible for miles, and a brigade of tanker trucks hauled water to the scene. Continue reading

Final Pretrial Hearing Set for Murder Defendant

Next month’s murder trial for a Knox man accused of killing his estranged wife at their rural California Township home last June is still on schedule. Gary Chavez is charged with murder, kidnapping and carjacking. Police say he beat his wife Kimberly to death on June 6, 2014, drove to Mark Bailey’s Discount Center and kidnapped an employee who was sitting in his car in the store parking lot. The two drove to English Lake where Chavez is accused of stealing another vehicle at gunpoint and leading authorities on a high-speed chase through LaPorte and Porter Counties. That vehicle broke down near Kouts, which is where Chavez allegedly stole a pickup truck at gunpoint from two men who stopped to help him. Police in Lake County deployed stop sticks on Interstate 65 near Crown Point in an attempt to end the pursuit. That’s when Chavez shot himself in the face. He spent two months in a Chicago hospital before being released to the custody of the Starke County Sheriff and has been jailed ever since. Continue reading