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

Mother of Baby Left in Car Makes Initial Court Appearance

 The mother of an infant who suffered frostbite after being left alone in a car after a Feb. 5 crash near North Judson made her initial appearance in Starke Circuit Court yesterday. Shayna Madison, 24, is charged with neglect of a dependent as a level 5 felony. Police responded to a wreck in the area of 250 West and 500 South. No driver was in the vehicle, but a small child was found in a car seat in the back. The child was treated at IU Health Starke Hospital and turned over to the Department of Child Services. Continue reading

Robert Corbin Sentenced in Starke Circuit Court

Robert "Ryan" Corbin

Robert “Ryan” Corbin

Robert Corbin was sentenced in Starke Circuit Court Thursday afternoon.

Corbin pleaded guilty to child seduction as a Class C felony in a previous court setting. Judge Kim Hall accepted the plea agreement that called for a seven-year sentence in the Indiana Department of Corrections. His sentence was broken into three components: 28 months will be served in the Indiana Department of Corrections, 28 months will be served on home detention with electronic monitoring and 28-months was suspended to be served on probation. By pleading guilty, all other counts against Corbin were dropped.

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Home Detention Ordered in Custody Interference Case

 A woman accused of interfering with a custody exchange will spend the next 12 months on home detention through Starke County Community Corrections. Amy Lowe pleaded guilty to the felony offense this week in Starke Circuit Court. Judge Kim Hall sentenced her to 12 months in the Department of Correction with none of the time suspended. However, she will be allowed to serve it on home detention with electronic monitoring.

Hansen Sentenced in Starke Circuit Court

 Jason Hansen was sentenced in Starke Circuit Court Thursday morning.

Hansen was found guilty on a charge of Domestic Battery as a Class D felony in a trial held this week. He was sentenced to three years in the Indiana Department of Corrections with no part of the sentence suspended.

In April 2014, Hansen grabbed his wife by the hair and hit her head against the wall repeatedly in front of their juvenile children at the home they shared.

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Starke Circuit Court Jury Trial Ends

 A verdict was returned late yesterday afternoon in a jury trial in Starke Circuit Court.

Jason Hansen was found guilty on a charge of domestic battery as a Class D felony and not guilty on a charge of criminal mischief.

Six jurors and an alternate heard testimony from seven witnesses provided by the State. The defense did not have any witnesses, and Hansen did not testify.

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Two Sentenced in Starke Circuit Court

 Two offenders were sentenced in Starke Circuit Court on Monday.

Sammie Marshall, 20, of Knox pleaded guilty in an agreement with the State to a charge of theft as a Class D felony. He admitted to stealing a Kindle Fire and several pieces of jewelry from a person with whom he was living. He then gave the items to another person.

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Knox Man Sentenced to Prison for Burglary

 A Knox man who pleaded guilty to burglary in connection with a break-in at a friend’s home last January was sentenced to 10 years in prison for that offense with none of that sentence suspended. Glenn Manns, 29, was also ordered to pay $250 in restitution to Arthur Norem, Jr. Court documents indicate Manns and James Royce stole copper, automobile parts, shotguns, a rifle, bows, knives and other items from Norem’s home. Royce has already been sentenced to 20 years in the Department of Corrections. Continue reading

Two Defendants Sentenced in Starke Circuit Court

 A Walkerton man will serve a total of 30 months on home detention through Starke County Community Corrections after pleading guilty to domestic battery and invasion of privacy charges. Starke Circuit Judge Kim Hall also ordered Mitchell Platz, 29, not to have contact with his victim for 42 months and to complete counseling. Continue reading

Joseph Esposito Found Guilty in Starke Circuit Court Trial

 Guilty verdicts were returned on three counts filed against Joseph Esposito.

The half-day trial began Wednesday morning in Starke Circuit Court, and two witnesses testified during the hearing including officer Frank Thomas from the North Judson Police Department and Indiana State Police Trooper Jim Strong.

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Indiana Court of Appeals Upholds Starke Circuit Court Sentence

 The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a sentence imposed against Dennis Wireman in Starke Circuit Court.

Wireman was convicted in 2013 on three counts of illegal possession of a controlled substance as a Class D felony in two separate cases, plus a Class D felony charges of illegal possession of a syringe and operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a prior conviction.

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Mary Young Sentenced to Probation

 Probation was given to a 25-year-old woman who pleaded guilty in a plea agreement with the state in Starke Circuit Court to a charge of neglect of a dependent, a Class D felony .

Mary Young of Auburn, Indiana told Starke County Magistrate Jeanene Calabrese that she did in fact lock her son in his bedroom and would not let him out of the room throughout the night. Her 10-year-old son, who has a form of autism called Asberger’s Syndrome, could not even leave the room to use the bathroom which caused further problems.

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Verdict Returned in Salita Trial

Michael Salita

Michael Salita

A jury returned a not guilty verdict concluding a two-day trial in Starke Circuit Court with defendant Michael Salita on Thursday afternoon.

Salita was arrested in August on a charge of rape as Level 3 felony. He had been incarcerated since he was arrested. The state had called four witnesses and the defense called five, including Salita.

Twelve jurors were selected Wednesday morning to hear testimony in the case in addition to one alternate. They returned Thursday afternoon with a verdict after 35 minutes of deliberation.

Michael Salita Trial Begins Today in Starke Circuit Court

Michael Salita

Michael Salita

A jury trial is set to begin today in the case of Michael Salita.

Salita, 28, was arrested on Aug. 14, 2014 on a charge of rape as a Level 3 felony. Jury selection of 12 jurors and one alternate will be held beginning at 9 a.m. followed by opening statements by both Deputy Prosecutor Autumn Ferch and defense attorney Richard Ballard.

The state is anticipated to call up to four witnesses while the defense will have five witnesses to testify in the case. The only motion that Ballard made to the court was that all witnesses be separated during the trial.

The trial is expected to take two days in Starke Circuit Court. The jury will deliberate after all testimony and closing statements are given.

Pair of Defendants Sentenced in Starke Circuit Court

 A South Bend man with a lengthy criminal history can add another sentence to his record. Tony Glover Jr., 29, pleaded guilty to a felony and a misdemeanor theft charge during an appearance in Starke Circuit Court yesterday. Both offenses occurred in September, according to court records. Glover admitted stealing electronics and knives from his mother and stepfather on Sept. 17 with intent to pawn them. Earlier that day he also stole power tools, clothing and other items valued at $886 from two Knox men. Continue reading