Four Women Graduate Chemical Dependency and Addictions Program

The graduates stand with Addictions Therapist Leo Smith

Four women received their certificate of completion of the Chemical Dependency and Addictions Program at the Starke County Justice Center.

The inmates took part in the 14-week program provided by officials from Porter-Starke Services. The program focused on overcoming addictions while rethinking behaviors and life choices. Participants develop skills to manage stress, anger, cravings, triggers, critical thinking and decision making. The program was facilitated by Chemical Dependency and Addictions Therapist Leo Smith who has 27 years of experience in the field working in corrections, outpatient, residential and detoxification.

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Inmates Graduate from Chemical Dependency and Addictions Program

Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall (L) and Leo Smith (R) stand with the graduates of the Chemical Dependency and and Addiction Program

Eight inmates from the Starke County Justice Center are now graduates of the Chemical Dependency and Addictions Program.

The program allowed inmates the opportunity to obtain counseling services and substance abuse education while incarcerated in the Starke County Justice Center. It was a 14-week treatment program facilitated by Porter-Starke Services and led by Chemical Dependency and Addictions Therapist Leo Smith. Therapists assisted inmates in restructuring behaviors and thoughts in addiction remediation. Skills taught included the management of stress, anger, cravings, triggers, critical reasoning and decision making.

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Jason Cooke Sentenced in Starke Circuit Court

Jason Cooke was sentenced in Starke Circuit Court Monday afternoon.

Cooke pleaded guilty in an amended plea agreement to count of robbery as a Level 2 felony. Cooke admitted to robbing Sescoe Wireman of Knox of money, prescription medication, an Indiana ID card, and multiple credit cards. Cooke hit Wireman during the robbery causing severe injury. Wireman was hospitalized and later died. The incident happened on or about Oct. 6, 2015, at Wireman’s home in the 100 block of East 500 South in Knox.

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Two Sentenced in Starke Circuit Court

Two people were sentenced Wednesday morning in Starke Circuit Court.

Dallas Sheets, 19, of Knox pleaded guilty in a plea agreement with the state to a charge of residential entry as a Level 6 felony. He admitted to entering his father and step mother’s house without permission and took a futon. The incident occurred on Sept. 19, 2017. Sheets was sentenced to 12 months in the Starke County Justice Center. That sentence was suspended to be served on probation. Sheets will have to complete all programs recommended by the Starke County Probation officers. If he violates his terms of probation, he will have to serve the remainder of his term in the Starke County Justice Center.

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Verdict Returned in Starke County Jury Trial

A Starke County man was found guilty by a 12-member jury in Starke Circuit Court on Thursday on a charge of domestic battery as a Level 6 felony.

The jury found that David Spohn battered his wife after an argument escalated over another woman. Spohn punched her in the head, causing her to fall. He then held her down and continued to hit her resulting in a chip fracture in her back and a contusion on a rib.

Spohn was on home detention for a prior felony conviction when he committed this offense.

Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff says Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ryan presented several witnesses, including the victim, two eye-witnesses and Officer James Conklin with the Starke County Sheriff’s Office.

Spohn will be sentenced by Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall on Thursday, March 29 at 2 p.m. Bourff says that a Level 6 felony carries a potential penalty of six to 30 months in the Starke County Justice Center.

Plea and Sentencing Hearing Set for Jason Cooke

A third plea agreement has been reached in the case of Jason Cooke.

Cooke is charged with the October 2015 robbery of Sescoe Wireman of Knox. Cooke is accused of hitting Wireman in the head, and taking money, prescription medication, an Indiana ID card, and multiple credit cards from him. Wireman died a few days later, but a murder count against Cooke was dropped last February.

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Chief Probation Officer Tenders Resignation

John Thorstad

Starke County’s Chief Probation Officer is leaving the position after 10 years.

John Thorstad’s resignation is effective today (Thursday, March 1). According to Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall, Thorstad was recently recognized by the Judicial Conference of Indiana with the highest award for a probation officer who “exemplified professionalism and commitment to transform lives, making our community safer for everybody.”

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Judge Rejects Jason Cooke’s Second Plea Agreement

Another plea agreement from Jason Cooke has been rejected in Starke Circuit Court. He’s charged with the October 2015 robbery of Sescoe Wireman. Cooke is accused of hitting Wireman in the head, and taking money, prescription medication, an Indiana ID card, and multiple credit cards from him. Wireman died a few days later, but a murder count against Cooke was dropped last February.

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Judge Requests More Time Before Accepting Jason Cooke’s Plea Agreement

The man accused of the October 2015 robbery of a Knox man will have to wait until at least Monday to learn his fate. Jason Cooke is charged with hitting Sescoe Wireman in the head, and taking money, prescription medication, an Indiana ID card, and multiple credit cards from him. Wireman died a few days later, but a murder count against Cooke was dropped last February.

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Nine Inmates Complete Chemical Dependency and Addictions Program

Nine Starke County Justice Center inmates recently graduated from a Chemical Dependency and Addictions Program.

The program focuses on addiction thought processes and criminal behavior. The inmates learn how to overcome their addiction while restructuring thoughts and behavior.

Porter-Starke Services therapists dedicate time to help the inmates conquer the program. Inmates focus on self awareness and self improvement in treatment sessions over a period of 14 weeks. Inmates develop skills to manage stress, anger, cravings and appropriate ways to respond to triggers. Critical reasoning and decision making skills are also taught in these courses. Continue reading

Trials Set in Starke Circuit Court

Trial dates were set for several defendants in Starke Circuit Court on Thursday morning.

Jerry Leonard, of Knox, is charged with four felony counts of child molesting. Two counts are Class A felonies and the remaining counts are Class C felonies. His trial with a 12-member jury is expected to start Jan. 8, 2018. There is a plea agreement deadline date in this case of Dec. 15.

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Status Hearing Set in the Case of Jason Cooke

The Plymouth man allegedly involved in the robbery and beating of a Knox man in October of 2015 will appear in Starke Circuit Court this afternoon for a status hearing.

Jason Cooke is accused of hitting Sescoe Wireman in the head and taking money, prescription medication, an Indiana ID card, and multiple credit cards in an incident that occurred at a home in the 100 block of East 500 South in Knox on Oct. 7, 2015. Court documents state that multiple strikes to Wireman’s head led to his death. Continue reading

Surgery Delays Murder Trial, Prompts Reevaluation of Jail Medical Contract

  A murder trial scheduled to start April 13 in Starke Circuit Court has been pushed back to at least July so the defendant can have surgery deemed medically necessary by a provider under contract with the county. Gary Chavez is accused of beating his estranged wife, Kimberly Chavez, to death at their rural California Township home last June. From there police say he drove to Mark Bailey’s Discount Center, kidnapped an employee and drove to English Lake where he’s accused of stealing a second vehicle. Chavez then led police on a high-speed chase into LaPorte and Porter Counties, according to court records. He’s accused of stealing a third vehicle in Kouts and continuing into Lake County. Police there say Chavez shot himself in the face when officers in Crown Point managed to stop his vehicle. He was airlifted to a Chicagoland area hospital and released to the custody of the Starke County Sheriff last August. Chavez remains in jail. Continue reading

Two Sentenced in Starke Circuit Court

 A man was sentenced in Starke Circuit Court on Wednesday on two charges after a battery incident in North Judson on March 15.

Michael Hanley, Jr., 30, of North Judson pleaded guilty in a plea agreement with the state in September to a charge of criminal confinement as a Class C felony and residential entry as a Class D felony. He admitted in open court to entering the home of a North Judson man without consent and blocking the door so he couldn’t leave while a co-defendant allegedly battered the victim. The co-defendant’s case is still pending a resolution as he participates in drug rehab.

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Competitive Grant Awarded to Help Treat Offenders with Mental Disorders

  
 

A grant in the amount of $175,000 has been awarded locally to provide treatment to adult offenders diagnosed with a mental disorder.

Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall and Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper worked together with Porter-Starke Services to secure this competitive grant which requires no local match money. Only 12 grants were distributed.

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New CASA Volunteers Sworn into Service

Judge Kim Hall swore in new CASA members Rebecca Berg, Patricia Camp, Katlyn Foust, and John Wampler.
Judge Kim Hall swore in new CASA members Rebecca Berg, Patricia Camp, Katlyn Foust, and John Wampler.

Four new Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, members were sworn into service by Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall in a special ceremony Tuesday.

Katlyn Foust, Patricia Camp, Rebecca Berg, John Wampler each completed 30 hours of classroom training plus an hour of observing cases. They all passed four separate background checks, including a federal fingerprint search.

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Criminal Charges Against Todd Boldry Dropped, Voluntarily Surrenders Teacher’s License

Todd Boldry
Todd Boldry

A motion was filed and signed to drop the criminal charges against Todd Boldry in an agreement that he would surrender his teaching license permanently.

Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff explained that the victim in the case didn’t want Boldry to necessarily get prison time for the offense that occurred between 2007 and 2008; she just wanted him to lose the ability to teach.

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