A murder defendant is scheduled to appear in Starke Circuit Court this afternoon for a status hearing. Gary Chavez is charged with murder, kidnapping and carjacking. Authorities say he killed his estranged wife, Kimberly Chavez, at their rural Knox home on June 6, drove to Mark Bailey’s Discount Center, left his car and kidnapped a store employee at gunpoint. Continue reading
A jury in Starke Circuit Court returned a not guilty verdict against a criminal defendant. Heather Ferch was originally charged with intimidation as a Class C felony in connection with an incident in May of this year. After the state’s four witnesses testified, Ferch’s attorney moved to have the case dismissed due to an absence of evidence.
Winford Hensley II pleaded guilty in a plea agreement with the state on three charges in three different cases: habitual traffic violator, possession by a meth offender and resisting law enforcement. Judge Kim Hall accepted the plea agreement.
Money to renovate the second floor of the Starke County Courthouse could come from the county economic development income tax funds used to pay for the new jail. At that time the existing jail across from the courthouse will be renovated to accommodate Starke County Community Corrections and the probation department. Plans call for the prosecutor’s office to move from the basement of the current jail into the courthouse and the current clerk’s office to be renovated. Continue reading
Samantha Smith, 19, pleaded guilty in a plea agreement with the state to a charge of assisting a criminal as a Level 6 felony. She drove a car with the battery suspect as a passenger from the scene of the crime. That suspect had struck another teenager in the head. The force of the impact caused the teenager to fall to the ground where his head hit a cement walkway and caused serious injury.
Miltenberger pleaded guilty in one case to Class D felony counts of auto theft and arson. He admitted that he stole a 1999 Grand Prix on the side of the road by Hamlet on May 12, 2014. He also admitted that he set that vehicle on fire.
It is alleged that Campbell set fire to his business, C&C Salvage, also known as Starke County Recycling, at the intersection of Toto Road and U.S. 35 on March 20. Campbell is charged with a Class A felony count of arson.
Stone, 45, pleaded guilty in a plea agreement with the state to an amended count of possession of methamphetamine as a Class D felony. He told Judge Kim Hall that he possessed the drug while in a car during a traffic stop in North Judson on Sept. 17, 2012.
Carter Scutchfield pleaded guilty to an amended charge of receiving stolen auto parts as a Class D felony. The sentence was presented as an agreed recommendation to Judge Kim Hall. Per that recommendation, Scutchfield was sentenced to 26 months in the Indiana Department of Corrections with no part of the sentence suspended.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.