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Jury Returns Verdicts in Starke Circuit Court

 A jury trial has concluded in Starke Circuit Court.

Curtis DeVries was found not guilty on a charge of burglary, but he was found guilty on a lesser included offense of residential entry, a Class D felony. The jury also found DeVries guilty on a charge of criminal mischief as a Class A misdemeanor.

The trial began Wednesday morning and the jury began deliberations at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday. They returned with the verdicts shortly after noon on Thursday.

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Trial Set in Starke Circuit Court

 Curtis DeVries will be on trial in Starke Circuit Court.

DeVries was arrested in February of this year for his alleged involvement in a burglary that was reported at a home in Starke County. DeVries has pleaded not guilty to charges of burglary as a Class B felony and criminal mischief as a Class A misdemeanor.

The state, represented by Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff, will attempt to prove that DeVries committed the elements of those charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Defense attorney, Steve Bohm, will attempt to prove DeVries’ innocence in the matter.

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Defendant Sentenced under New Felony Classification

  A defendant will serve time on probation after his case was settled in Starke Circuit Court on Monday.

Ethan Hill pleaded guilty in a plea agreement with the state to a charge of theft as a Level 6 felony. Judge Kim Hall accepted the plea agreement which called for 12 months in the Indiana Department of Corrections with 12 months suspended to be served on probation.

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Walkerton Woman Sentenced to Probation

 A Walkerton woman was sentenced on a reduced charge in Starke Circuit Court Thursday morning.

Tamara Esparza pleaded guilty to an amended charge of neglect of a dependent as a felony. However, due to her lack of a criminal record, her cooperation with a drug investigation and her ability to do what’s best for her situation and her daughter, the felony count was reduced to a misdemeanor as ordered by Judge Kim Hall. The order was also made so she could remain gainfully employed.

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Royce Sentenced to Six Years in DOC

  A Knox man with an extensive criminal history is headed back to prison for the sixth time in his life.

James Royce, 44, pleaded guilty in a plea agreement with the state to felony charges of residential entry and escape and a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief in two separate cases. The state and defense argued Royce’s sentence to Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall.

In one case, Royce admitted that he forced his way into his aunt’s home without an invitation. In the second case, he admitted to escaping the custody of a jailer who was escorting him from the courthouse to the Starke County Jail. Royce had appeared for a hearing in Starke Circuit Court and Judge Hall ordered him back to jail. Royce admitted that he “panicked” and ran. The jailer suffered an injury chasing after Royce. Royce was apprehended approximately 20 minutes after he escaped custody. He also admitted to tampering with the GPS ankle bracelet he was wearing as he had been on home detention through Starke County Community Corrections.

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Obomsawin Sentenced to Six Years in DOC

 A South Bend man was sentenced Tuesday morning in Starke Circuit Court after pleading guilty to an amended count of child molesting as a Class C felony.

A plea recommendation was offered in the case of Adam Obomsawin which Judge Kim Hall accepted. Judge Hall sentenced Obomsawin, 36, to six years in the Indiana Department of Corrections with two years suspended to be served on probation. In addition, Obomsawin was ordered to undergo sex offender treatment. Upon the successful completion of that course, he may petition the court for a modification of the sentence. He is to have no contact with the victim during the execution of his sentence.

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Chavez to Receive Court Appointed Attorney

 Gary Chavez told Judge Pro Tem Daniel Murphy in Starke Circuit Court Friday morning that he will not be able to afford a private attorney.

A status hearing was held in his case on Friday to see where Chavez was in terms of obtaining counsel. He hasn’t been represented since he appeared for his initial hearing in August. Murphy informed Chavez that a court appointed attorney will be assigned to his case.

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Judge Sets Bond for Suspect in High-Speed Chase

The Grovertown man accused of backing into a Starke County Sheriff’s Deputy during an attempted traffic stop before leading officers on a high-speed chase through two counties last week is jailed on a $250,000 surety bond. Paul Thomas Coffin, 34, of Grovertown, pleaded not guilty to the charges during his initial hearing in Starke Circuit Court. Continue reading

Chavez to Appear for Another Attorney Status Hearing

 The man accused of beating his estranged wife to death at his home in Knox, kidnapping an employee at gunpoint and fleeing in a vehicle from Mark Bailey’s Discount Center in North Judson and carjacking a vehicle from a residence in English Lake at gunpoint on June 6 was in court Friday morning to see if he has secured counsel.

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Taylor Sentenced in Starke Circuit Court

Eric Taylor

Eric Taylor

Eric Taylor was sentenced in Starke Circuit Court Friday morning.

Taylor was on trial for two days in Starke Circuit Court in August which ended with not guilty verdicts on charges of dealing in methamphetamine and possession of chemical reagents or precursors with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine. The jury was deadlocked on counts of possession of methamphetamine, possession of a syringe, maintaining a common nuisance and possession of paraphernalia.

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Lenig Found Not Guilty

 A jury found John Lenig not guilty on two charges in a two-day trial in Starke Circuit Court.

Lenig was facing charges of burglary as a Class C felony and criminal mischief as a misdemeanor. A 12-member jury found Lenig not guilty on both counts in a little over an hour. The verdict came in shortly before 1 p.m. on Thursday.

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Gary Chavez to Appear in Court for Hearing

  Gary Chavez will appear in Starke Circuit Court this morning for an attorney status hearing.

Chavez last appeared in court for an initial hearing on Aug. 25 where he pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, kidnapping and carjacking. He appeared without an attorney but stated that his family was working on getting an attorney to represent him. Today’s hearing will determine where that process stands.

Chavez, 57, is accused of beating his estranged wife, Kimberly Chavez, to death at his home in Knox, kidnapping an employee at gunpoint and fleeing in a vehicle from Mark Bailey’s Discount Center in North Judson and carjacking a vehicle from a residence in English Lake at gunpoint on June 6.

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Lenig Trial Continues in Starke Circuit Court

  The trial of John Lenig continues today in Starke Circuit Court.

Lenig has been charged with burglary as a Class C felony and criminal mischief as a misdemeanor charge. The jury was selected yesterday and testimony by the state’s witness and the defense will move forward today.

Three days have been set aside in the court’s calendar for the trial. WKVI News will have the verdict after it is delivered in court.

Gayheart Sentenced to 20 Years on Drug Charges

  A Starke County man was sentenced in Starke Circuit Court Monday morning on several drug charges.

Corbin Gayheart pleaded guilty in a plea agreement with the state to three charges in two separate cases. Judge Kim Hall accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Gayheart per the terms of that agreement.

Gayheart will serve 10 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections with two years suspended on a charge of possession of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a public park as a Class B felony. He was given an 18-month sentence with no part of the sentence suspended on a charge of possession of precursors or chemical reagents with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine as a Class D felony. Those sentences will run concurrently, or at the same time.

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Chavez Appears in Starke Circuit Court for Initial Hearing

 The man accused of beating his estranged wife to death at a home in Knox, kidnapping an employee in a vehicle from Mark Bailey’s Discount Center, and carjacking a vehicle from a couple in English Lake appeared in Starke Circuit Court Monday afternoon for his initial hearing.

Gary Chavez pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, kidnapping and carjacking. He told Judge Kim Hall that his family is working on getting an attorney for him. An attorney status hearing is set for Sept. 5 at 9 a.m. but will be vacated if a notice of an attorney has been filed with the court. His omnibus date was set for Oct. 9.

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Murder Defendant Out of Hospital, Jailed Without Bond

Starke County Sheriff's Deputy Bill Dulin and Prosecutor Nick Bourff speak to the media about the June 6, 2014 carjacking and ensuing pursuit.

Starke County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Dulin and Prosecutor Nick Bourff speak to the media about the June 6, 2014 carjacking and ensuing pursuit.

The rural Knox man accused of beating his wife to death, kidnapping a man from a business parking lot, stealing a Jeep at gunpoint in English Lake and leading authorities on a high-speed chase through three counties before shooting himself is back in Starke County. Detective Rob Olejniczak from the Starke County Sheriff’s Department and Jailer Joshua Kazee picked Gary Chavez up from the Cook County, Ill. jail today. Continue reading

Taylor to be Tried Again in Starke Circuit Court

Eric Taylor

Eric Taylor

Eric Taylor will be on trial again to face the four counts in which resulted in a hung jury.

Eric Taylor was on trial for two days in Starke Circuit Court which ended with not guilty verdicts on charges of dealing in methamphetamine and possession of chemical reagents or precursors with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine. The jury was deadlocked on counts of possession of methamphetamine, possession of a syringe, maintaining a common nuisance and possession of paraphernalia. The jury deliberated for five hours.

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Richie Sentenced to Home Detention

 Steven Richie was sentenced in Starke Circuit Court on Thursday morning.

Judge Kim Hall accepted a plea agreement between Richie and the State of Indiana in which Richie pleaded guilty to a possession of marijuana charge plus a charge of possession of marijuana with a previous conviction to merge into one Class D felony charge. Richie was sentenced to serve 20 months with no part of the sentence suspended.

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Several Sentenced in Starke Circuit Court

 Several defendants were sentenced in Starke Circuit Court Thursday morning.

Devin Trusty pleaded guilty in a plea agreement with the State to a charge of operating a vehicle with a lifetime suspension. Magistrate Jeanene Calabrese accepted the plea agreement which called for a sentence of three years in the Indiana Department of Corrections with no part of the sentence suspended. While incarcerated, trusty will participate in a therapeutic community. If he successfully completes the CLIFF or GRIP program, he may petition the court for a modification of his sentence.

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