The Starke County Courthouse remains closed to the public until June 15, but virtual plea and sentencing hearings were held Wednesday where three cases were resolved.
Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall presided over the cases through a live link on YouTube that can be found on the Circuit Court’s website at http://starkecircuitcourt.com/ in an effort to keep the hearings in a public manner. The hearings are live on YouTube, but are not preserved there. Judge Hall explained that a hearing is made a matter of permanent record through the usual recording practice in the courtroom.
Eric Taylor, 42, of Knox, pleaded guilty in a plea agreement to a Level 6 Felony charge of possession of methamphetamine. He admitted to Judge Hall that he had the substance in his possession after police executed an arrest warrant at a residence in Starke County where he was present in January 2019. The police were notified of the warrant following a 911 call at the residence.
Taylor was sentenced to 24 months in the Starke County Jail with no part of the sentence suspended. He was permitted to serve the sentence on home detention with electronic monitoring.
Jamin Keeton, 43, of Knox, pleaded guilty in a plea agreement between the state and the defense to a charge of battery against a public safety official as a Level 6 Felony. Keeton admitted to Judge Hall that he grabbed an officer by the leg in an attempt to bring him down while Keeton was under the influence of drugs and alcohol in an incident in Starke County in October 2019. He stated he doesn’t remember the incident, but believes the police report and statements to be true.
He was sentenced per the recommendation of Starke County Court Services to 24 months in the Starke County Jail with all of the sentence suspended to be served on probation.
William Hardel, 40, of La Porte, pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of methamphetamine as a Level 6 Felony. He admitted to Judge Hall that he had the drug in his possession while his vehicle was searched during a traffic stop in February of this year.
He was sentenced to 12 months in the Starke County Jail. He will continue to participate in a program while incarcerated. Upon successful completion and graduation from the treatment program, he will be released to serve the remainder of his sentence on probation.