Jennie Carter Bench Trial to Continue Today

Jennie Carter
Jennie Carter

Final arguments will continue today in Starke Circuit Court in the case of Jennie Carter.

Carter is facing a count of Theft as a Class D Felony in a bench trial began last Wednesday. Three witnesses testified including the lead Indiana State Police investigator in the case, Debbie Mix of the Starke County Tourism Commission and Starke County Chamber of Commerce and Jennie Carter herself.

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Indiana House to Review Overhaul of Criminal Sentencing Code

 Beginning today, the Indiana House will be taking a look at rewriting the decades-old criminal sentencing code.

The Criminal Code Evaluation Committee has agreed that the main overhaul of the code focuses on consistency, proportionality, like-sentences for like-crimes, new criminal penalties and sentencing schemes designed to keep dangerous offenders in prison, but avoid using prison space for non-violent offenders.

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Starke County Republicans to be Sworn in Today

Starke County Courthouse

Three Starke County Republicans will be sworn into office today by Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall.

Kathy Norem and Kent Danford will take the oath of office of Starke County Commissioner and Bryan Cavender will be sworn in as a Starke County Councilman.

The ceremony will take place in the Starke Circuit Courtroom on the third floor of the courthouse at 3 p.m. CT.

Starke County Republicans to be Sworn into Office Next Week

The Starke County Republican swearing-in ceremony is set for Monday, December 31 at 3:00 p.m. CT.

Starke County Commissioner Kathy Norem ran unopposed in the General Election and was retained in her District and Kent Danford won in his District over Dan Bridegroom in November. They will take the oaths of office along with newly elected Starke County Council member, Bryan Cavendar.

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Plea Agreement Rejected For Robert Reed

Robert Reed

A plea agreement was rejected for Robert Reed, who was arrested on charges stemming from an alleged robbery and attempted murder case in San Pierre on May 22, 2011. The plea agreement would have sentenced Reed to 24 months in the Department of Corrections on charges of Receiving Stolen Property and Resisting Law Enforcement. None of that sentence would have been suspended.

Reed is currently being held in the Westville Correctional Facility, and was never transported to Starke County for his hearing. Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall rejected the agreement, and set a jury trial date of Aug. 1, with a pretrial motions and instructions hearing on July 31 at 1 p.m. A jury status hearing will take place on July 20 at 9 a.m., with a final pretrial conference and plea agreement deadline of July 13 at 9 a.m.

Starke County Jail Committee Holds Meeting

Starke County Jail

The Starke County Jail Committee recently met with representatives from the DLZ Architectural Firm, Skillman Corporation, Umbaugh and Associates, and Ice Miller Legal Councilors.

The next phase of the committee’s work is the data collection by Paul Downing of DLZ. Downing said after he collects the data, including jail bed needs, he will pass the information along to the architectural team.

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Bond Set in Knox Swim Coach Arrest

Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall set a $15,000 bond for Knox Community School swim coach Robert R. Corbin, who is charged with two counts of Attempted Child Seduction as Class D felonies. Corbin, 27, is also prohibited from making any contact with the victim.

In the affidavit in support of probable cause filed today in circuit court by Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff and prepared by Knox City Police Department Detective David Combs, it is alleged that on Wednesday, March 28, Knox Police Department Officer Chad Keen responded to a call and went to a residence in Knox. He was informed by the victim’s father that his sixteen-year-old daughter had been receiving inappropriate messages from a Knox teacher, and Officer Keen took printed pages of Facebook messages between his daughter and Corbin.
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Plea Agreements In Murriah Dailey Attempted Murder and Robert Reed Robbery Case Move Forward In Starke Circuit Court

Murriah Dailey
Robert Reed

Plea agreements have been filed in open court for Murriah Dailey and Robert Reed. Dailey was previously charged with two counts of Attempted Murder as a Class A felony, Attempted Escape, Robbery, Receiving Stolen Property, two counts of Resisting Law Enforcement, and Striking A Law Enforcement Animal. Reed faced charges of Robbery, Receiving Stolen Property, two counts of Resisting Law Enforcement, and one count of Habitual Traffic Violator. Murriah Dailey appeared in front of Starke Circuit Court Magistrate Jeanene Calabrese on March 26th 2012 and the plea agreement was found to be acceptable.

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Special Prosecutor Named to Impropriety Case

A special prosecutor has been named to handle the case against Sheriff Oscar Cowen in which claims of impropriety were filed by former deputy Don Ferguson. Curtis Hill of Elkhart County has been named, but he has not yet accepted the position. Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff petitioned for a special prosecutor because of his close work relationship with the Starke County Police.

The Special Judge assigned to the case, Honorable Jeffrey Thode of Porter Superior Court #6 located in Portage, Ind., will replace Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall who issued an Order of Recusal and Assignment of a Special Judge to the case.

Starke Circuit Court Judge Throws out Plea Agreement for Jenny Keeton

Jenny Keeton

A plea agreement was thrown out of court yesterday for Jenny Keeton, charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor as a Class C Felony and Dealing in a Scheduled II Controlled Substance as a Class A felony.

The agreement requested Keeton serve four years in the Department of Corrections with two of those years suspended, to be served on home detention followed by probation. The Class A Felony, which carries a minimum sentence of 20 years, would be dismissed. Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall rejected the agreement, saying he has no reason to accept an agreement with probation because he believes her extensive past, including 16 prior charges with several violations of probation, disqualifies her for the privilege.

A status hearing was set for March 9 to allow Keeton’s attorney, Richard Ballard, to form a new plea agreement with Prosecutor Nick Bourff that would appease Judge Hall.

Keeton admitted in court to encouraging her niece to take methadone, a controlled substance, while she stayed at her home. Keeton said she told the girl to take the medication because she was suffering of pain—but Judge Hall said he didn’t buy her version of the story.

Claims of Impropriety Filed Against Starke County Sheriff

Starke County Sheriff Oscar Cowen

The Indiana State Police have informed Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff that claims of impropriety have been brought against Sheriff Oscar Cowen by former deputy, Don Ferguson.

Because he works closely with the Starke County Police, Prosecutor Bourff petitioned for a special prosecutor to handle the claims. Also issuing an Order of Recusal and Assignment of Special Judge was Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall. The Special Judge assigned to the case is the Honorable Jeffrey Thode of Porter Superior Court #6 located in Portage, Indiana. This Judge will conduct all future proceedings including a ruling on the pending Petition for a Special Prosecutor.

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Two Grovertown Residents Arrested after Police Conduct Search Warrant

Heather VanDusen
Julius Novitzke

Two Grovertown residents were arrested Wednesday after a search warrant was executed at their residence.

Officers from the Starke County Sheriff’s Department and the Indiana State Police conducted a drug investigation at 10195 E. Francis Street in Grovertown. Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall approved a search warrant for the property and officers from Starke County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana State Police and the Plymouth K9 unit executed the search warrant early Wednesday morning. Officers located several items commonly used the manufacture of methamphetamine, discarded methamphetamine labs, the finished product and other controlled substances.

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New CASA Director Named

Rhonda Adcock

Judge Kim Hall has named a new CASA Director for Starke County. The new director will be assuming the duties held for the past four years by Ron Henningsmith.

“Rhonda Adcock has been a CASA volunteer with our program for just over a year now and she’s a very capable young lady,” said Henningsmith. “I decided that I need to step aside and let someone else take the reigns at the helm and she has gracefully accepted that challenge.”

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Starke County Republican Candidates Sworn into Office

Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall, Tim Cummins, Donna Henry, Dave Kesvormas, Wendy Hoppe and Knox City Court Judge Charles Hasnerl

Five Starke County Republican candidates successful in the November Municipal Election were sworn into office last night. Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall swore in City Court Judge Charles Hasnerl and he said his office will be busy in 2012.

“One of the primary issues that we’re dealing with, along with the City in working with the Council and the Mayor, is the financial issue and trying to come up with resources to cover the costs,” said Hasnerl. “It’s a needed service and we handle a number of cases for the entire county so that’s going to be our primary focus – not just this year, but throughout this term.”

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Democratic Caucus for Starke County Treasurer Will be Held

Ethan Lowe

There will be a Democrat Caucus tomorrow night to select a replacement for Linda Belork, but the replacement will not be called the Treasurer of Starke County. Linda Belork, with counsel, appeared before Judge Kim Hall in Starke Circuit Court Wednesday morning seeking an injunction against a Democrat caucus being held to fill her position by the precinct committeemen.

Judge Hall ruled that because State Statute does not guide him in this motion he would fashion a ruling on the testimony. The judge interviewed Belork’s Attorney, Ethan Lowe, as well as Democrat Chairman Ken Wallace. When completed, Judge Hall ruled that a caucus could proceed tomorrow night, but that the person selected would be referred to as the Interim Treasurer. As the Interim Treasurer, the candidate would have the full authority of the Treasurer’s position to make decisions and sign documents.

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Swearing in Ceremony Scheduled for CASA Volunteers

Ron Henningsmith, Director of the Starke County CASA organization, is announcing that a new class of CASA volunteers will be sworn in by Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall on Monday, November 21st, at 4:00 p.m.

CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, is a nationwide organization that acts on behalf of children in court cases.

According to the CASA website, 71 of Indiana’s 92 counties have CASA organizations. There are almost 3,000 volunteers statewide.

Senator Ed Charbonneau Speaks to 21st Century Scholars in Knox

State Senator Ed Charbonneau

State Senator Ed Charbonneau was in Knox last night to speak at the 21st Century Scholars ceremony.

“This is a very exciting program that provides college tuition for four years at a state college or university, and an equivalent amount if a student wants to go to a private school,” said Senator Charbonneau. “What this does is remove the worry that a young family might have of how they’re going to pay for their child’s college education.”

The scholarships are based on income levels, but the only criteria is that the students conduct themselves in a positive manner through high school.

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Donald Humphrey Sentenced in Starke Circuit Court

Donald Humphrey

Donald Humphrey was sentenced Wednesday in the Starke Circuit Court for Harassment as a Class D misdemeanor, Intimidation as a Class D felony, and two charges of Intimidation as a Class C felony.

During the sentencing hearing, the victim, David Palm, gave a brief statement to the court requesting the maximum sentence for Humphrey, saying he’ll “never change.” He also requested three days of pay that he had lost to come to court, for a total of $250.

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Starke Circuit Court Judge Denies Request for Special Prosecutor

Starke Circuit Court Judge Kim Hall has denied a request from Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff to appoint a special prosecutor to go forward in prosecuting Kenneth Wallace and Ryan Taylor in their upcoming court hearings.

In the request to the court, Bourff suggests that since the defendant’s father helped him in his election effort, a special prosecutor should be appointed.

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