21-year jail sentence handed to man involved in multiple offenses PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty Randall   
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 23:16




He pleaded guilty to burglary, battery and criminal confinement, all serious felonies, so the sentence of 21 years given to Brandon Lesnet, 32, should not have come as a surprise to the man seated with other inmates in the Scott Circuit courtroom on Tuesday morning, October 3.

Lesnet has been waiting for an outcome to a series of crimes he committed since he first broke into a home in 2015 and stole antique firearms and other guns.

The Sheriff’s Department’s detectives and officers worked the case and had Lesnet in custody within a few days of the crime.

Lesnet added to his legal woes by confining another inmate against that man’s will and yet another incident in jail in which he spat on a jailer. Those outburst earned him multiple charges, including that of criminal confinement and battery to a public safety officer.

Senior Judge Nicholas South presided over the brief sentencing hearing, telling Lesnet that the plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to Level 4 felony burglary and Level 5 felonies battery and criminal confinement gave him a sentence of 12 years with eight suspended on the burglary; four years with one suspended on the battery; and five years with no suspension on the criminal confinement. All are to be served consecutively.

Consequently, he will serve up to a maximum of 12 years or a minimum of nine years behind bars. After he is released, he must also serve five years on supervised probation.

He was also ordered to make restitution of $4,395.06 to his victims, with whom he is to have no contact.

Remaining criminal charges in the three cases have been dismissed.

“I hope the time that Mr. Lesnet will serve in prison will open his eyes and let him know that the type of behavior he was involved in will not be tolerated. Whether a person acts the way he did out on the streets or in our local jail, the people of Scott County will not put up with it,” stated Chris Owens, Scott County Prosecutor.

He further said that Lesnet has “…a significant criminal history and so has earned his spot with the Indiana Department of Corrections. I hope he takes advantage of the programming offered to him while he serves his sentence so he can return to society ready to put his previous ways behind him and follow society’s rules.”

Excellent work by officers with the Sheriff’s Department is credited by Owens for the outcome in these crimes. “We couldn’t get convictions and sentences like this without good police work. I’d also like to thank the homeowners for their cooperation in the investigation and for their patience in getting these matters resolved,” Prosecutor Owens commented.

Marijuana and methamphetamine possession arrests by ISP in Austin PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty Randall   
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 23:14




Two recent arrests for drug possession were made by Indiana State Police (ISP) troopers working in Austin.

James G. Parks, 46, Austin, and Christopher S. Helton, 29, Paris Crossing, were taken into custody by officers on October 2 and 4, respectively.

Parks’ case began when Trooper Tyler Matthew was approached by a woman at the Austin Police Department. The woman told the officer that Parks had been violating a protective order she had against him by texting her and by riding a bicycle near her home several times a day.

Learning that Parks had an active arrest warrant issued by Clark County, Trp. Matthew began looking for Parks. He soon found him riding a bicycle with a female companion. Both riders turned onto Mann Avenue from Broadway Street. Trp. Matthew stopped the pair and asked for identification.

Parks readily identified himself and Trp. Matthew told him he was going to be arrested for the active warrant.

Before the officer could apply handcuffs to Parks, Trp. Matthew said Parks reached into his front pants pocket and threw a package of cigarettes on the ground. The trooper retrieved the package, saying he discovered it contained marijuana.

Parks denied ownership of the package.

He was charged with possession of marijuana on October 5. Bail was set at $5,000 by corporate surety bond or $500 cash by Senior Judge Roger Duvall. A bench trial on the charge is scheduled December 12.

Around 3:30 p.m. on October 4, ISP Trooper Zachary Smith said he noticed a blue Ford Ranger quickly traveling south on U.S. Highway 31. The officer said he used his radar equipment to determine that the Ranger was driving 55 mph in a 35 mph zone.

He said he also noticed that the driver and two backseat passengers were not using their seatbelts as required in Indiana.

Trp. Smith stopped the vehicle and learned that the driver was Christopher Helton. Helton, the officer said, admitted to not using his seatbelt and reportedly said he wasn’t aware of his speed. Trp. Smith noted Helton had “…shaking hands, rapid breathing (and a) shaking voice…” as the two were talking.

Asked if he had any weapons, Helton reportedly admitted to having some knives in his pocket. He was asked to retrieve the knives. As he did so, Trp. Smith said two baggies coated with white residue slid out of the man’s pocket. Helton said he didn’t know he had them, saying they were “…old…”

Helton supposedly admitted to using methamphetamine (meth) recently. A digital scales also reportedly coated with white residue was found in the Ranger. The residue tested positively for meth, the officer stated.

He was placed into custody and transported to the Scott County Security Center.

Helton is charged with Level 6 felony possession of meth and maintaining a common nuisance.

At his initial hearing on October 5, Helton was given an initial jury trial date of January 15. Bail was set at $15,000 by surety bond or $1,500 cash. Those amounts were later reduced to $7,500 or $750 cash.

17-year-old sentenced to six years in adult prison facility for park shooting PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty Randall   
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 23:12


Seventeen-year-old Detai Howard of Austin will spend at least four of the six years to which he was sentenced on Monday, September 25, in an adult prison facility.

Scott Circuit Court Judge Jason Mount listened to four hours of testimony during Howard’s sentencing hearing before deciding to send the slenderly-built teenager to an adult facility on a charge of aggravated battery causing permanent disfigurement or protracted loss of or impairment of function.

As he returned to the bench after a 25- minute break during which he made the decision, Judge Mount told the young man and his family it had been a difficult decision to make.

Detai Howard was videoed by cell phone shooting a man he knew from New Albany in the leg on the east side of Beechwood Park on May 31. A by-stander had heard the two arguing loudly about a gun Howard had allegedly stolen from the man, identified as Jonathon Borton, and began videoing the confrontation. Howard had pulled the handgun from his backpack, aiming at Borton. After Borton was shot, Howard fired at a car, hitting it once. He then ran from the scene, discarding the still-loaded gun in a ditch.

After surrendering to police, Howard told officers where they could find the weapon, and it was safely recovered.

Part of the evidence presented in the case by Chief Deputy Prosecutor Raleigh Campbell Jr. involved a screening of the video and testimony from Lt./Detective Steven Herald of the Scottsburg Police Department and Austin High School principal Ryan Herald.

Lt. Herald said Borton is recovering from his wound. He had been transported by ambulance to University of Louisville Hospital for treatment after the shooting.

Howard was taken to the Jackson County Youth Detention Center in Brownstown soon after the shooting. Charges of Level 3 felony aggravated battery and Level 5 battery and criminal recklessness were filed against him on August 3. He entered into a plea agreement on the Level 3 charge five days later. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered with the date of sentencing set on September 25.

Howard had appeared alert and fairly optimistic during the testimony phase of the sentencing. He sometimes appeared to be checking facts with his attorney, public defender Josh Stigdon, especially during the testimony of a young woman who stated she saw the shooting and helped get Borton to safety. However, after hearing he was headed to an adult prison, Howard’s head went down and he rarely looked up.

“The State wanted (you to get) nine years in prison. I am giving you six,” Judge Mount told the young man. The issue over whether to send the young man, now nearly 18 years old, to a prison for adult offenders or keep him in a youth facility apparently caused Judge Mount some anguish. He said as he looked over the facts of the case, however, he determined that Howard needed to be in an adult prison.

“You shot a person in a park where there were other people, including children, nearby. If the bullet had entered just a little bit more to one side (of Borton’s leg), we could have been looking at a murder charge instead of aggravated battery. You continued to shoot the weapon after you had wounded Mr. Borton, again in a place where there were innocent people. You threw the loaded gun in a ditch where anyone could have found it. Things you did right were surrendering to police and telling them where the gun was,” the judge said.

Behavioral problems Howard had experienced while in school in Austin and later at the Brownstown youth center were noted as well. The judge also seemed moved by a two-page written statement Howard made, acknowledging his responsibility in the shooting incident and his hopes to get a college degree in business.

Judge Mount said Howard will have more opportunities available to him at the adult prison. “This is what I want you to do: I want you to prove to me that you can behave, and that you are serious about completing your education. I will allow you to participate in several programs, get your GED (general education degree), get substance abuse therapy and anger therapy. I want you to, at the end of four years, show me that you are ready and able to be a responsible adult,” Judge Mount advised.

If Howard completes four years in prison satisfactorily and takes advantage of the programs offered to him, the judge said he would grant Howard’s petition for a sentence modification hearing. “Then we’ll talk about a possible sentence modification,” he said. Howard was given 156 days of credit for time already served.

Howard has the opportunity to appeal his sentence, and Judge Mount directed Stigdon to advise his client about filing that appeal.




Women charged with meth dealing among several individuals arrested on drug offenses PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty Randall   
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 23:06




Two Scottsburg women are among recent drug-related arrests made by local officers.

Mystin M. Williams, 35, and Samantha L. Williams, 36, are incarcerated at the Scott County Security Center after an early morning incident at Huck’s in Austin on Monday, September 25.

Deputies Joe Baker and Rex Herald set up an undercover drug deal with a confidential informant late on Sunday night, September 24. That person contacted the women and then told the officers that the pair would be at the gas station in a Mustang to make the sale.

The deputies apprehended the Williamses in the car sometime after 2 a.m. Approximately 20 grams of methamphetamine (meth) were in the women’s possession, according to Deputy Baker’s probable cause affidavit. Also found was some drug-related paraphernalia.

Each suspect was booked into the Security Center that same morning.

Both face charges of Level 2 felony dealing in meth and misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia. Mystin Williams owned the car the pair was using, so she faces a Level 6 felony charge of maintaining a common nuisance. Samantha Williams has a misdemeanor charge of visiting a common nuisance.

The women had initial hearings in Scott Circuit Court on Thursday, September 28. Not guilty pleas were entered, and an initial January 8 jury trial date was scheduled for each. Bail was set at $100,000 by corporate surety bond or $10,000 cash for each.

The defendants are scheduled to return to Circuit Court on Thursday, October 5, regarding their need for public defenders.

Others charged in recent drug arrests are:

? Jessica Nicole Barrett, 30, Underwood; charged with Level 6 felony maintaining a common nuisance and misdemeanors of possession of a synthetic drug or look-alike, operating motor vehicle when never received a license and possession of drug paraphernalia. Arresting officer was Scottsburg Patrolman Greg Green; assisting him were Sgt. Rodney Watts and Patrolman Justin Cheatham. The arrest was made on September 16 on U.S. Highway 31 after Ptl. Green said he saw Barrett make several driving errors. A one-year-old child in the car was turned over to a staff member of Scott County Department of Child Services.

? Jonathan Beech Terry, 33, Scottsburg; charged with Level 6 felony possession of meth and Level 6 felony possession of a legend (prescription) drug. Arresting officer was Scottsburg Lt./Detective Mike Nichols on September 14. Det. Nichols located Terry in a mobile home park after learning Terry was wanted on two arrest warrants. Terry was allegedly found with several syringes and the drug.

? James Robert Hall, 38, Underwood; charged with Level 6 felonies of possession of meth, unlawful possession of a syringe and escape, and misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance. Arresting officer was Deputy Josh Watterson at 1 a.m. on September 19; Deputy Baker assisted him. Hall had been involved in a single vehicle accident at State Road 56 East and Shea Road. Deputy Watterson noticed a home monitoring bracelet on his ankle and learned that Hall did not have permission to be away from his residence at that time of day. Liquified meth was allegedly found in a syringe in his possession. The deputy said he also located crystal meth and Suboxone strips.

? Ernest V. McKeand, 21, Madison; charged with Level 6 felony unlawful possession of a syringe and misdemeanor resisting law enforcement. Arresting officer was Austin Sgt. Scott McCoskey on September 19 in downtown Austin; Deputy James Shelton assisted him. McKeand allegedly fled on foot from Sgt. McCoskey before surrendering. The syringe was reportedly located by jailers between McKeand’s buttocks at the Security Center during the booking process.

? Christopher Scott Gay, 33, Austin; charged with Level 6 felony unlawful possession of a syringe and misdemeanors of possession of a controlled substance, visiting a common nuisance and operating a motor vehicle whenever received a license. Arresting officer was Deputy Watterson on September 20 near Coffee Pot Road. Gay allegedly had Suboxone in his possession when he was stopped by the officer.

? Kayla Suzann Barger, 21, Crothersville; charged with Level 6 felony maintaining a common nuisance. Arresting officer was Deputy Watterson on September 20. Barger was with Gay and owned the 2006 Dodge Caravan stopped by the deputy. The vehicle was impounded.

? Dustin R. Hines, 34, Austin; charged with Level 6 felony unlawful possession of syringe and misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Arresting officer was Indiana State Police Trooper Zachary Smith who came across Hines on September 21 near Water Tower and Booe Roads near Austin.

? Jerrica N. Cooksey, 27, Scottsburg; charged with Level 6 unlawful possession of syringe, maintaining a common nuisance and possession of heroin and two misdemeanors of possession of a controlled substance. Arresting officer was Detective Paul Clute of the Sheriff’s Department on September 22. Cooksey was arrested at the home of Barry Kiefer. A 15-day hold without bond was placed on her because of prior convictions.

? Barry R. Kiefer, 55, Scottsburg; charged with the same charges as Cooksey as well as misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Det. Clute and Probation Officer Scott Pool found Kiefer with Cooksey in the mobile home on September 22. He allegedly told the officer that he was trying to help Cooksey get off drugs.

? Shelbie N. Fields, 21, Austin; charged with Level 6 felonies of unlawful possession of syringe and possession of meth and misdemeanor theft. Arresting officer was Austin Police Chief Robert Gudgel on September 23. He took Fields into custody after she was allegedly caught stealing makeup at the Dollar General Store. A 15-day hold without bail was placed on Fields by authorities.

? Martha Hathcoat, 49, Scottsburg; charged with Level 6 felony possession of meth and misdemeanors of possession of a controlled substance and possession of paraphernalia. Deputy Josh Watterson stopped Hathcoat as she was allegedly speeding on U.S. 31 in Scottsburg on September 29. Hathcoat reportedly had a suspended driver license and no proof of insurance for the vehicle. Given permission to search the vehicle, the officer said he found pills and drug paraphernalia as well as a straw coated with meth residue.

? Jarrod D. Scifers, 30, Scottsburg, was arrested on September 29 after Deputy Joe Johnson allegedly saw a syringe where Scifers had been seated in a car. Scifers reportedly admitted the syringe was his. Unlawful possession of a syringe is a Level 6 felony.

All defendants have had initial hearings in Circuit Court, with jury trial dates assigned and bail set. Barry Kiefer filed a cash bond of $2,500 and was released to await his trial. Both Hathcoat and Scifers were released on home detention and are subject to weekly drug tests.




Best laid plans definitely go awry for foursome now charged with theft PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty Randall   
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 09:03

As Scots poet Robert Burns is often quoted as saying, “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry,” or words to that effect.

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