Two defendants were sentenced in Starke Circuit Court Thursday afternoon.
The court hearings were held virtually as a way to keep the settings open to the public while the courthouse remains closed to the public. A YouTube link is available on Starke County government’s website and is only active when the hearing is in session. The hearings are not preserved on the YouTube page, but the audio is recorded in the Starke County Courtroom by the court reporter as required by law.
Chance Skaggs, 32, of Rochester, pleaded guilty in a plea agreement negotiated between the prosecutor and the defense to a charge of auto theft as a Level 6 Felony. Skaggs admitted to Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall that he took a 1997 Buick without the owner’s permission and possessed it for a week-and-a-half. The owner reported it stolen on Sept. 26, 2019 and he was arrested in October on the charge.
The State and the defense argued the sentence with a cap of 18 months. After reviewing Skaggs’ criminal history and noting an active warrant in another county, Judge Hall sentenced him to 16 months in the Starke County Justice Center with no part of the sentence suspended. If Skaggs successfully completes an in-custody treatment program, he may petition the court for a modification of his sentence. At that time, Skaggs may be permitted to serve time with Starke County Court Services with some type of recommended supervision. He was also ordered to have no contact with the victim. He will also need to pay court costs and a public defender fee. He will be given credit for time served.
Jamie Nitcher, 46, of Knox, pleaded guilty in a plea agreement negotiated between the state and the defense to a Level 6 Felony charge of possession of methamphetamine, a Class A Misdemeanor of criminal trespass and a Class B Misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief. He admitted to Judge Hall that he was on a property in Starke County on March 3, 2020 without permission of the owner. He said he was told by the owner to leave the property and did not do so immediately and damaged a fence on the property. When police arrived at the scene, they reportedly found Nitcher to be in possession of methamphetamine.
The sentence was argued by the State and the defense. After extensively reviewing Nitcher’s criminal history and noting three other warrants pending in three different counties, Judge Hall sentenced Nitcher to the recommended cap in the plea agreement of 18 months in the Starke County Justice Center with no part of the sentence suspended. He must pay court costs, a drug interdiction fee and a public defender fee. He was ordered to have no contact with the victim. This sentence will be served concurrently, or at the same time, with the misdemeanor counts for which he was sentenced to one year and six months, respectively. No restitution was ordered. If Nitcher successfully graduates an in-custody treatment program, he may petition the court to modify the sentence. He will be given credit for time served.