In The News

In the News: Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office

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Videos, social media connecting Prosecutor to Public

Television viewers may be surprised to see Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nicholas Hermann in the advertisements between shows and sporting events.

Those aren’t political campaign commercials, however, and the 30-second spots aren’t anything new.

They are public service announcements, Hermann explained, and his office has been doing them for most of the two terms he has held the position.Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 2.37.00 PM

“We’ve been doing them consistently the entire time I’ve been in office,” he said. “I think the public really appreciates it. No taxpayer money goes into it. We don’t have a budget for it.”

Instead, the prosecutor’s office has used its share of forfeiture money from drug cases, and the occasional grant, to fund its campaign of public service announcements.

“I want this office to be as transparent and available to the public as possible,” he said.

Most of the videos are seen on cable television, where his office is able to afford the air time and even negotiate donated spots.

Hermann said he first learned about the idea while attending Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council training shortly after his 2010 election. Other county prosecutors also use similar public outreach strategies, he said.

“We have used it to launch our We-Tip anonymous crime reporting hotline (in 2013) and keep the public informed on crime trends. It serves several different purposes,” he said.

In the seven years Hermann has been in office, he has seen the video topics evolve from the dangers of methamphetamine and meth labs to the current wave of opioids and heroin abuse and overdose deaths.

Since January, the videos have been produced by Jess Powers, a former television reporter who now works as spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office.

“We are general on some of them and we then we try to be specific about certain issues,” she said.

Powers uses her digital production skills to create longer versions of the 30-second videos that can be shared via social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook, as well as other social media outreach.

Another benefit of the prosecutor’s office’s move into the digital sphere has been to not just launch the We-Tip crime line but continuously remind people about it.

“When you need the number and it’s not there you’re not going to use it, so we try to get out there as much as we can,” Hermann said.

It’s paid off, Powers said, with more than 4,000 tips received in the last four years, including 637 tips in the first six months of 2017.

Callers can use the 1-800-78-CRIME (1-800-782-7463) number to anonymously report criminal activity.

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Hidden in Plain View: Addiction is Real and VCPO show off interactive exhibit

Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office hosts exhibit to show signs of child drug abuse

Hidden in Plain Sight: Identifying the signs of drug abuse

On what first glance appeared to be an average teenager’s bedroom set up in the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office Thursday, a closer look revealed what would be any parent’s worst nightmare.

70 signs of drug abuse were littered throughout the display; some obvious, some innocuous. The goal is not to scare, but to educate, which is why the VCPO invited Addiction is Real, or AIR, to show the “Hidden in Plain Sight” exhibit.Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 8.43.39 AM

“Obviously we’ve had an opioid problem in our community, which has moved into a heroin problem, and we’re seeing these people overdose, we’re seeing people become addicted,” said Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann. “And you have started to see, you know, younger children, you know, particularly middle school, and high school, getting involved in these types of drugs.”

Many of those who help with AIR do so because they wish someone had shown them the signs that are sometimes hard to see.

“You just don’t think that little baby of yours grew up to be this sneaky and will lie, and the one thing my son told me was, you know, I’m an addict mom, I lie,” Pam Greenberg said.

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 8.43.52 AMHer son Justin Greenberg was a straight A student, and an athlete. In college, Justin fell into drug abuse. Much of “Hidden in Plain Sight” display was based off his room.

“My son unfortunately, after being in rehab for a full year, a month after he was out of a rehab, he passed away. It just got a hold of him, and he couldn’t let go,” Greenberg said. “If I could stop this for one family, one mother, that’s why I do this.”

Whether it’s the salt used to separate the alcohol in hand sanitizer, the dryer sheet masking the smell of marijuana smoke, or the screw driver that helped hide heroin under the light switch, something seemingly innocent can be anything but.

According to AIR, that sentiment may not be something people, specifically parents, want to hear, but need to.

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— A Car Crash And A Mistrial Cast Doubts On Court-Ordered Mental Health Exams —

One day in August 2016, 83-year-old Albert Fink crashed his 2012 BMW sedan into a tree, on a curve on Indiana State Road 46 just outside of Bloomington.Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 11.19.55 AM

Fink — a Bloomington psychologist — was to testify the next day as an expert witness at the trial of Caleb Loving, who in 2015 was charged with arson and possession of explosives.

By chance, two Indiana State Police Detectives were driving right behind him that day. Indiana State Police Sergeant Curt Durnil said that when they interviewed Fink, he told them the crash was deliberate.

“His intention was to commit suicide, right here on this tree,” said Durnil.

Vanderburgh County prosecutor Nick Hermann, who was trying the Loving case, said soon after the crash, his office got a call from a state trooper. The trooper explained that a doctor had been in an accident and confessed to falsifying a report related to a trial he was going to testify at.

“We quickly realized that that was the trial we were in,” recalled Hermann.

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Evansville woman sentenced to 45 years for murder of boyfriend

A 26-year-old Evansville woman pleaded guilty to murder Tuesday, a week before her trial was to have started.

Chauna Reed pleaded guilty to the Oct. 18, 2016 murder of her boyfriend, Stedman Baird, 27, in their apartment in the 1800 block of Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 11.37.53 AMPlantation Court.

As part of the plea agreement, Reed will serve a 45-year sentence. Vanderburgh County Circuit Court Judge David Kiely will sentence her at 9 a.m. Oct. 2.

Prosecutors will dismiss charges of dealing methamphetamine and narcotics, as well as a sentencing enhancement for using a firearm that would have added time to her sentence if she had been convicted at trial.

On Monday, Kiely denied defense attorney Barry Blackard’s motion seeking to suppress her police statements from use at trial because she was allegedly intoxicated at the time. An Evansville Police Department detective testified Reed spoke coherently, understood her rights and did not appear impaired.

Reed admitted Tuesday that she was the influence of methamphetamine and cocaine at the time of the shooting, and that she slept with a .40-caliber pistol under her bed pillow. She said her drug use had impaired her ability to understand and see things at the time, as well as her ability to remember some things.

Reed admitted that she fired her gun through her bedroom doorway.

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Prosecutor raises concerns over disturbing trends in criminal sentencing, addiction

Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nicholas Hermann spoke to Indiana legislators recently about the impact of the state’s reformed criminal code.

nick-001 Hermann said he represented the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, addressing prosecutors’ concerns to the General Assembly’s Courts and Criminal Code summer study committee on Sept. 6.

 “There were a lot of good things in it and there are some things that need to be corrected,” he said.

 While the changed criminal code initially appeared to alleviate Indiana’s rapidly growing prison population, it did so by shifting responsibility for housing the lowest level felony inmates to county jails.

 The result has been overcrowding at many jails, Hermann said.Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 2.31.38 PM

 “Jail has become a holding tank for people with mental health concerns or who need intensive drug treatment,” he said.

The Vanderburgh County Jail currently houses more than 90 Indiana Department of Correction inmates.

“When you have a jail that is near or over capacity and then you add another 90 people, it puts tremendous pressure on judges and law enforcement officials not to put people in jail,” he said. “A jail is for pre-trial detention, for people who are awaiting trial who are a threat to public safety.”

Hermann also called attention to the disparity in funding for housing inmates in jails, with the state paying counties $35 per day for each inmate while the cost of keeping them in the Department of Correction is $55 per day.

Although the changed criminal code mandated inmates serve more of their sentences before they are eligible for release — it’s now 75 percent instead of 50 percent — the penalties for many crimes were reduced, Hermann said.

The result has been that many inmates are serving less time, with some who need treatment languishing in jail while drug dealers serve shorter sentences.

Hermann cited Indiana Department of Correction statistics that show since the reformed criminal code went into effect, there has been a decrease in the average time inmates convicted of drug dealing offenses spend behind bars.

For instance, while dealing narcotics such as cocaine and heroin is a level 2 felony with a 10-30 year sentence, convicted narcotics dealers are serving an average of 5.1 years of their sentences. Methamphetamine dealers are serving an average of 6.7 years of their sentences.

Prosecutors have seen a general increase in felony charges statewide since 2010, according to Indiana Trial Court statisticm, Hermann said.

He said there disturbing statewide trends in Indiana. “Crime rates are up, CHINS (Children In Need of Services) cases are up, overdose deaths are up, child fatalities are up, prisons and jails are full,” he said.

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— Indiana Secretary of State thanks Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann for work on securities fraud case —

Evansville man sentenced to 5 years for securities fraud
Eric Morgan will serve time after scamming investors for over $600,000

INDIANAPOLIS (August 8, 2017) — Eric N. Morgan of Evansville has been sentenced to 5 years by the Vanderburgh Screen Shot 2017-08-08 at 3.14.28 PMCircuit Court.  Morgan’s sentencing comes after an investigation led by the Secretary of State’s office.
The investigation began in 2014 when the Secretary of State’s office received a complaint about Morgan.  Morgan was the President and CEO of Liquid Ninja and took more than $600,000 from 3 victims in the Evansville area for investments in his energy drink company, but instead used the money for personal gain.  Neither Morgan nor the product he offered were licensed in the State of Indiana.
“This is not the first time an unlicensed fraudster has conned Hoosiers into an investment scam,” said Secretary Lawson. “We urge investors to do their homework before investing and to contact the Secretary of State’s office if anything seems suspicious.  I would like to thank Vanderburgh Prosecutor Nicholas Hermann for his leadership and hard work in pursuing this case.”
“This is another example of why an individual should always do their due diligence before investing a substantial amount of their hard-earned cash,” said Securities Commissioner Alex Glass.  “Taking the time to research potential investments is an important part of preventing investment fraud.”
Morgan was sentenced to 5 years, to be served as 1 year in the Department of Correction, followed by 4 years on Work Release.  He is ordered to pay $650,024 in total to his 3 victims.
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— Evansville Man Sentenced For Child Molestation Charges —Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 2.20.29 PM

An Evansville man accused of child molestation learns his fate. A Vanderburgh County Magistrate sentenced 51-year-old Jeffrey Ivan Hall to 20 years behind bars.

Hall is accused of molesting a young child multiple time between October 2014 and June 2016.

Holly’s House investigators and EPD detectives gathered enough evidence in this case to arrest Hall on child molestation charges.

If you think a child is being abused, call 1-800-800-5556.

To report domestic violence or sexual assault, call 911, or the 24/7 hotline at 1-800-332-7385.

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— Drug dealer sentenced to 20 years in prison —

An Evansville woman will spend 20 years behind bars for several drug-related felonies.

A Vanderburgh County Circuit Court Judge sentenced Darah Kammerer, 44, to 20 years behind bars.Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 5.17.59 PM

Kammerer was arrested after detectives with the Evansville Vanderburgh County Drug Task Force raided a home on Covert Avenue in October of 2016, and located methamphetamine, prescription pills, and a .380 caliber pistol inside.

Vanderburgh Co. Prosecutor Nick Hermann says the investigation was a result of concerned citizens notifying law enforcement and a concerted effort by detectives to find the person responsible.

To report drug activity in your neighborhood, you can call the anonymous WETIP hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME.

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Prosecutor: Evansville man sentenced to 40 years in child molestation case

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) –

An Evansville man was sentenced to 40 years in a child molestation case.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, 42-year-old Fredrick Rogers pled guilty to 12 felonies.Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 5.11.55 PM

In June, 32-year-old Kaara Broesch was sentenced to 30 years in prison for her role in the crimes.

In January, detectives with the Evansville Police Department say they discovered Broesch forced a child under the age of 14 to perform sexual acts on her boyfriend, Fredrick Rogers.

Police say Broesch told them she did it because she has a meth problem and was scared of Rogers.

Copyright 2017 WFIE. All rights reserved. 

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Jury reaches guilty verdict in molestation case

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) –Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 6.23.42 PM

A Vanderburgh County jury found an 80-year-old Evansville man guilty of child molestation.

Robert Ludwig Sr. is accused of engaging in sexual acts with a victim under the age of 16 several times.

We’re told that victim disclosed information about the incidents to a teacher in October of 2016.

Ludwig was booked into jail Friday night. He’s expected to be sentenced August 21.

Copyright 2017 WFIE. All rights reserved. 

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— Warrant Compliance Day —Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 11.28.06 AM

Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann and Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding joined us on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming Warrant Compliance Day in Vanderburgh County.

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— Prosecutor Nick Hermann explains purpose behind Warrant Compliance Event —Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 11.20.29 AM

Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann was interviewed by Brad Byrd on July 24th, 2017 for the upcoming Warrant Compliance Event held on July 26th, 2017.

 

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— Prosecutor’s Office adds furry friend to team —

— Prosecutor’s Office hopes newest member will help ‘comfort’ victims —

— Prosecutor’s Office Adds Furry Friend to Help Comfort Victims —

The latest staff addition at the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office will be wearing a collar instead of a tie when he starts work later this year.

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 11.59.39 AMFinn, a service dog, is Deputy Prosecutor Kelly Corne’s 2-year-old Shetland Sheepdog. Later this year Finn will start work as the prosecutor office’s first certified therapy dog.

His job will be to calm the fears and anxiety’s of crime victims, especially children, comforting them in settings that can Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 11.36.21 AMoften be overwhelming.

“For any victim who having trouble dealing with the (court) process, particularly those involved with intimate crimes, it can be one of the most scary experiences they have ever had,” Corne said.

Finn’s gentle demeanor will provide a much-needed way of reaching through those anxieties to connect with people.

“He is very loving, friendly, happy and playful,” Corne said.

Often children who are victims of crime have been threatened by the perpetrator with harm to themselves or others if they talk about it, Corne said.

“When they walk through that door and there’s Finn. Finn is not mad at them,” she said.

That comforting presence will hopefully give victims, especially children, something else to focus on and help them relax as they speak to investigators, said Prosecutor Nicholas Hermann.

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 11.35.37 AM“These cases are obviously very important. In every single one of these cases the most important piece of evidence is the statement of the victim,” he said. “Particularly with a child, just trying to get the truth of what happened can be difficult. The hope is that utilizing the service of a therapy dog in this instance will help in that and help build a relationship with the victim. When a dog is used the rate of disclosure is much, much higher.”

In June, Finn successfully completed all 10 tasks of the American Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Program obedience course.

 That is the first step to certification with Pet Partners, a national registry for therapy animals, said Cyndie Kieffer, local instructor and pet evaluator for the nationwide organization.

Corne will next have to take her own handler training course, Kieffer said, learning how to interact with people and her dog in therapy settings. The course also teaches handlers how to best advocate for their therapy animal. The two will then be evaluated.

Kieffer said her own dog, Jack, works alongside her in her practice as a licensed social worker in Southern Illinois.

“When I met Finn, I had a chance to see him interact with a great variety of people and he greeted everyone enthusiastically. He is definitely smart,” she said.

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— Evansville man sentenced to 69 years in prison —

An Evansville man convicted of nine felonies in an attempted robbery and gunfight that injured five people will spend almost 70 years in prison.

Jarvice Sears, 21, was sentenced to 69 years during a hearing Thursday.

Police said Sears and three other armed men tried to rob people inside a Virginia Street apartment in October 2015. Three of them were shot Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 3.57.50 PMand injured, including Sears, who was shot in the chest. None of the injuries were life-threatening. The wounded men were taken to a hospital and the fourth man as well as a getaway driver were arrested.

Two other men – a man inside the apartment and a neighbor who opened his door when he heard noise – were also shot and injured after exchanging gunfire with the attempted robbers.

Sears was charged with multiple felonies in October 2015, some of which were dropped. In May, he was found guilty of the following charges:

  • Two counts of burglary with serious bodily injury, both level 1 felonies
  • Attempted robbery with serious bodily injury, a level 2 felony
  • Four counts of attempted robbery, a level 3 felony
  • Two counts of aggravated battery, a level 3 felony

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Evansville man sentenced for January robbing, carjacking —

VANDERBURGH CO., IN (WFIE) –

An Evansville man has been sentenced to nearly three decades behind bars.

According to the Vanderburgh Co. Prosector’s Office, 40-year-old Gary Whittington Jr. was sentenced Wednesday to 28 years for a string of Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 12.06.54 PMcrimes involving robbery, burglary, and criminal confinement.

In May, a jury convicted Whittington on nine felonies in connection with a January crime spree.

[Evansville man convicted for robbery and home burglary]

Whittington Jr. was arrested after deputies responded to a hold up in progress in the 1600 block of Allens Lane. The victims reported two men forced them out of their vehicle and stole personal items before stealing another vehicle and driving off.

[Father & son charged with robbing, carjacking CSX employees]

Several hours later, deputies were called to a burglary in the 13000 block of St. Wendel Road.

Investigators used surveillance video from cameras on the property to identify the two men as Whittington and his son, 21-year-old Gary Elijah Whittington.

Gary Elijah Whittington is set to be sentenced on Monday.

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Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Picked for Indiana Supreme Court Committee

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) –

Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nicholas Hermann has earned a position on an Indiana Supreme Court Committee.nick-001

Hermann is one of six Indiana legal professionals who will be appointed to the Rules of Practice Committee on July 1.
The terms will expire in June 2022.

Throughout the year, members of the committee receive proposed rule amendments from different sources across the state. The committee will evaluate the requests to if changes need to be proposed.

“It is an honor to be selected to serve on the Indiana Supreme Court Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure,” said Prosecutor Hermann.  “The work of this committee impacts the legal community across the Hoosier state.”

Copyright 2017 WFIE. All rights reserved. 

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— Got a warrant? Here’s how to avoid arrest —

Vanderburgh County residents facing outstanding warrants can turn themselves in without being arrested and have their warrant lifted during a three-hour period next month.

The idea, said prosecutor Nicholas Hermann, is to help clear the backlog of warrants in the Vanderburgh County court system and move cases forward.Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 2.47.02 PM

He said there are more than 13,000 active warrants in Vanderburgh County. Oftentimes they are for missing a court date, although they may be for other reasons such as owing child support or probation violations.

Active warrants often don’t get served until the person comes into contact with the justice system again somehow, Hermann said, such as in a traffic stop or when they become involved in another incident.

People with active warrants can come to Courtroom 110 in the judicial side of the Civic Center 9 a.m. – noon July 26 to have their warrant lifted and new court dates scheduled. Those attending the event must bring a form of identification, said Jess Powers, spokeswoman for the Prosecutor’s Office.

The event is only for warrants in misdemeanor, level 5 and level 6 felony charges. Although those who come to the event will not be arrested, their charges will not be dropped.

“The idea is to get them back on the court calendar and get their case moving again,” Hermann said.

 

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— Evansville woman guilty of dealing large quantity of meth —

Evansville, IN – Following a two-day trial, a jury found 44-year-old Darah Mariah Kammerer guilty of several drug felonies in Vanderburgh County Circuit Court Thursday afternoon.Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 5.17.59 PM

Kammerer was arrested after detectives with the Evansville Vanderburgh County Drug Task Force raided a home on Covert Avenue in October of 2016, and located methamphetamine, prescription pills, and a .380 caliber pistol inside.

“The jury listened to the evidence we presented and came back with the correct verdict. Detectives with the Evansville Vanderburgh County Drug Task Force got this large amount of methamphetamine off the streets. We won’t tolerate drug dealers in Evansville,” explained Vanderburgh County Deputy Prosecutor Emily Hall following the verdict.

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— Woman sentenced for sex crimes against child, nets 30 years behind bars —

An Evansville woman has been sentenced in a sex crimes case that started in January.

Officials with the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office say 32-year-old Kaara Broesch was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Police say the victim, who is under the age of 14, was interviewed at Holly’s House. They say Broesch admitted she forced the girl to perform sex acts with Frederick Rogers while being video taped. Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 1.53.03 PM

The police report says the victim was also forced to watch Rogers and Broesch have sex, and watch other pornographic videos.

Police say Broesch told them she did it because she has a meth problem, and was scared of Rogers.

Officers say Rogers denied the claims at first, but then confessed.

Rogers’ case is still pending.

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— Woman sentenced to 20 years in child sex crimes cases —

A woman accused of paying a young teenager’s parent to bring the girl to her home, where she sexually abused the teenager, was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison.

Kaze Gathings, 22, was originally charged with 30 counts of child molesting as a level 3 felony. Electronic court records show that she pleaded guilty to one of those charges and the rest were dismissed.

Under Indiana law, level 3 felonies carry a sentence of three to 16 years.Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 8.52.06 AM

Gathings was arrested in November and allegedly told police she molested the victim multiple times over several months, starting when the victim was 13 years old and Gathings was 20.

She was also convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor in a separate case filed around the same time. According to a probable cause affidavit, she confessed to molesting the 13-year-old victim while police were investigating the sexual misconduct with a minor case, which involved a separate 15-year-old victim.

That case stemmed from a report that Gathings had a sexual relationship with the 15-year-old victim when Gathings was 21, but told the victim she was 17. Gathings was sentenced to eight years in prison Thursday in that case after pleading guilty to one charge of sexual misconduct with a minor as a level 4 felony.

In a statement released after the sentencing hearing in the child molesting case, the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office thanked victim advocacy center Holly’s House “for their extensive work gathering evidence and other significant materials for this case.”

Gathings was not listed as an inmate at the Vanderburgh County Jail or in the Indiana Department of Corrections as of 5 p.m. Tuesday.

To report child abuse, call Indiana Child Protective Services at 1-800-800-5556.

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— Man sentenced to 60 years in strip club slaying —

A man convicted of murder in a fatal shooting outside an Evansville strip club was sentenced to 60 years in prison

gerrod pointer Monday, just five years short of Indiana’s maximum sentence for the crime.

A Vanderburgh County Circuit Court jury convicted 27-year-old Gerrod Pointer after a three-day trial in May.

He was convicted of shooting Maurice Heyward, 38, early in the morning of Feb. 13, 2016, outside the Lucky Lady Lounge on North Main Street, where Heyward worked security.

“The defendant was lying in wait to shoot down the victim in this case,” Judge David Kiely said.

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Michael Howell sentenced to 57 years in deadly shooting, police chase

A Vanderburgh County judge on Thursday sentenced Michael Damien Howell to 57 years in prison for the April 9, 2016, shooting death of Beverly Karns and charges linked to an ensuing chase by law enforcement.

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Baker gets 45 years in Fares Avenue killing–

An Evansville man convicted of voluntary manslaughter was sentenced to 45 years in prison Thursday for fatally shooting 22-year-old Robert Ocke-Hall in the chest.

Although Kyle Baker, 23, had been charged with murder, a jury in Vanderburgh Circuit Court opted to convict him of the lesser manslaughter charge.

The sentence includes 30 years for manslaughter and 15 for using a firearm. Baker still faces a July 17 trial in a separate intimidation and Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 10.16.13 AMbattery case from 2016.

Darrin Ocke, Robert’s father, testified Thursday that his son was autistic but had disrupted his support services because he wanted to live on his own.

Before sentencing Baker, Judge David Kiely quoted a line from one of the many letters he said he received about Ocke-Hall: “He is a wonderful young man whose life was taken away too early.”

Baker’s lengthy criminal record extended back to the age of 12, including several juvenile convictions involving violence and weapons, as well as adult convictions for battery, theft and marijuana possession, according to prosecution evidence.

“It is very difficult to go to jail for possessing marijuana in Vanderburgh County but nevertheless, he managed to do it,” said Deputy Prosecutor Keven McDaniel. “He does the same thing over and over again. He has showed nothing but a criminal mindset from the age of 12. He simply is a danger to everyone.”

Officer James Delano testified that in 2012 Baker admitted to being in a gang called Crazy White Boys. He said Baker was among five or six males he questioned while responding to a call about a fight with baseball bats.

Detective Crystal Thomas testified that Baker’s name was photographed in a picture of gang grafitti among a roll call of names listed alongside a Crazy White Boys monogram.

Officer Jennifer Cueto, who was lead investigator in Ocke-Hall’s death, testified that Baker made phone calls from jail attempting to collect drug debts and trying to convince people to lie for him in the shooting case.

 A surveillance camera at a nearby business recorded the April 8, 2016, shooting but at trial defense attorney Jon Schaefer argued Baker was acting in self-defense and did not intend to kill Ocke-Hall.

Although Baker did not testify at the trial, prosecutors played to the jury excerpts of jail telephone calls and his police interview.

Baker told police said he walked to Fares Avenues to look for his brother, who owed him money. He said he had been calling his brother’s phone but Ocke-Hall kept answering and that the two argued and exchanged threats.

Several time during the interview Baker told police he could not remember much of what happened because he had been taking drugs for two days before the shooting and was having black outs. He admitted shooting Ocke-Hall but said he did not intend to do it.

The video, played at trial, showed Ocke-Hall walking and speaking on a cell phone as Baker and his girlfriend approached from the opposite direction. Baker could be seen pulling a gun, extending his arm and running toward Ocke-Hall who stepped backward as Baker shot him in the chest at close range.

Baker was then seen running away. Police recovered the gun and Baker’s jacket, discarded by a nearby railroad track.

Defense attorney Jon Schaefer put Baker’s mother, Debra Baker, on the stand to testify that her children were removed from her home and placed in foster care twice because of her and her husband’s drinking and drug use.

She testified she had to kick her children out of her house to maintain her sobriety because they continued using drugs after she had stopped.

Schaefer quoted studies indicating children in foster care developed emotional and substance abuse problems at a much higher rate than others. He argued Baker fit that profile.

“Kyle was living on the street. He was using drugs. He was running with a gang. He commits crimes. He’s got behavior problems. He has attachment problems,” Schaefer said. “He didn’t wake up that day intending to kill somebody.”

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–Evansville man guilty of murder in strip club shooting —

May 17th, 2017: Following a three day trial, a jury found 27-year-old Gerrod Pointer guilty of murder Wednesday afternoon in Vanderburgh Co. Circuit Court.

Pointer was charged with shooting and killing 38-year-old Maurice Hayward outside an Evansville strip club on February 13th, 2016.

Two months after the deadly shooting, law enforcement officers near Wichita, Kansas located Pointer.

He was later transported back to Vanderburgh County.

During the course of the trial, the jury watched several hours of surveillance video, listened to testimony from witnesses, and heard from Evansville Police Officers were were first on scene.

Courier & Press: Lucky Lady shooter found guilty of murder

14 WFIE: Jury finds Gerrod Pointer guilty of murder

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— Evansville man guilty of manslaughter in shooting of unarmed man —

May 10th, 2017: The man accused in a fatal shooting on Fares Avenue in 2016 was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter on Wednesday.

Kyle Baker was accused of shooting Robert Ocke-Hall, 23. The April 8, 2016, shooting was captured on surveillance video from a nearby Fares Avenue business.Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 10.16.13 AM

Baker could face up to 30 years in prison. He also pleaded guilty to a sentence enhancement of using a firearm while committing a felony that could add another 5-20 years to his sentence.

Baker will be sentenced at 2 p.m. June 5.

Surveillance showed Ocke-Hall walking and speaking on a cell phone as Baker and his girlfriend approached from the opposite direction. In the video, which was played in court, Baker is seen pulling a gun, extending his arm and running toward Ocke-Hall who appears to step backward as Baker shot him in the chest at close range.

Baker is seen running away as his girlfriend continued walking past Ocke-Hall without helping him. Police recovered the gun and Baker’s jacket discarded by a nearby railroad track.

Autopsy evidence at the trial showed that Ocke-Hall had no drugs or alcohol in his system when he died of a gunshot wound to the heart, and police testified he was unarmed.

Man guilty of manslaughter in Evansville shooting

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–Evansville business owner found guilty of raping customer —

May 10th, 2017:Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 8.21.50 AM Vanderburgh County Superior Court Judge Robert Pigman sentenced Edward Meiggs to nine years behind bars Wednesday afternoon.

In April, a jury found 43-year-old Edward Meiggs guilty of Rape, a level 3 felony, following a three-day trial.

Meiggs was arrested in May of 2015 following a complaint of inappropriate sexual behavior from a customer at his business, Evansville Metaphysics.

Meiggs will serve his sentence at the Indiana Department of Corrections.

Meiggs will also be placed on the sex offender registry database.

Courier & Press: Prison time handed down for rape conviction

14 WFIE: Judge sentences EVV business owner to nine years for rape

25 WEHT: Jury finds Edward Meiggs guilty of rape

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— Recent Child Molestation Case to Stick with Prosecutor, Detective —

The police and prosecution accomplished what they set out to do but the recent trial and sentencing in a recent child molesting case will stick with those who sought justice for a four-year-old girl. On Thursday, 25-year-old Ryan Remling of Evansville was sentenced to a total of 79 years in prison after being convicted of molesting the victim and recording the sexual abuse on his cell phone.

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–Evansville man found guilty of manslaughter in woman’s death–

April 6, 2017: A Vanderburgh County Superior Court jury found Michael Damien Howell guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Beverly Karns.

Voluntary manslaughter is a level 2 felony punishable by up to a 30-year prison term.

The jury deliberated for five hours after four days of evidence and testimony.  Howell was also convicted of criminal recklessness, attempted robbery, and auto theft.

Courier & Press: Evansville man found guilty of manslaughter in woman’s death

14 WFIE: Verdict reached in Michael Howell murder trial

25 WEHT: Jury finds Michael Howell Guilty

44 News: Michael Howell Guilty on Four Charges

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Evansville man sentenced to 79 years for child molesting, weapons charges

Evansville, IN – Vanderburgh Circuit Court Magistrate Judge Michael J. Cox sentenced 25-year-old Ryan Remling to a 79-year prison term Thursday afternoon.

In March, Remling was convicted of four counts of Child Molesting, all level 1 felonies, in Vanderburgh County Circuit Court following a two-day trial.

Remling was arrested in December of 2016 after Evansville Police Detectives were notified that videos of the incidents involving the young victim were found on Remling’s phone.

The victim was under the age of 14.Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 3.17.33 PM

“He stole choices from this little girl, that she should have had the chance to make on her own,”  explained Vanderburgh County Deputy Prosecutor Kelly Corne during the sentencing hearing.

Remling was also facing a level 4 felony charge, for possessing a deadly weapon while in custody at the Vanderburgh County Detention Center back in December of 2016.

Following the sentencing hearing on the child molestation case, Remling pleaded guilty to the weapons charge. Remling received a 4-year prison term in that case.

The 75-year term in the child molestation case and 4-year term in the weapons case, will run consecutive for a total of 79 years at the Indiana Department of Corrections.

 

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— Former Evansville massage therapist found guilty of rape —

Following a three-day trial, a Vanderburgh County jury found Edward Meiggs guilty of rape, stemming back to an incident which occurred in May of 2015.

At that time, Meiggs owned a business called “Evansville Metaphysics” on South Green River Road.Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 8.21.50 AM

The victim in this case told investigators she went to that business, after she found an online coupon for a massage.

According to that victim, Meiggs forcibly performed specific sexual acts during the massage, after the victim told him, “No”.

Edward Meiggs will be sentenced on May 10th at 1:30 p.m.
The charge of rape is a level 3 felony, which carries a penalty of 3-16 years in prison.

“We wanted justice for the brave young woman in this case. We wanted justice for her family. We wanted to make sure her voice was heard,” explained Vanderburgh County Deputy Prosecutor Javier Lugo.

 

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April is Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Awareness month.  Deputy Prosecutor Javier Lugo and the staff at Holly’s House know the struggles of finding justice for victims in these cases.

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Representatives from the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office and several other local organizations for crime victims held an event on April 8th, 2017 for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

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National Crime Victim’s Rights Week will be held April 2nd-8th in 2017, and the events shed light on vulnerable victims in our society.

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Prosecutor Nick Hermann and EPD Chief Billy Bolin hold news conference over arrest in Aleah Beckerle case.

Man arrested in connection with Aleah Beckerle death

Evansville man arrested in death of disabled woman

Affidavit portrays disturbing details in Aleah Beckerle abduction, death

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Prosecutors Nick Hermann and Curtis Hill express concern over pending pre-trial release program in Indiana – 14WFIE

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Vanderburgh County father charged in deadly stabbing and shooting, makes first court appearance – 44 WEVV

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Court advisory opinion steers towards allowing “live-tweeting” in courtrooms

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An advisory opinion from the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications could clear the way for journalists and citizens alike to ‘live tweet’ court proceedings as they happen. The commission’s opinion was prompted by the Vanderburgh County triple murder case of Christopher Compton who was convicted but found mentally ill in 2015. In that case, the judge permitted members of the press to live tweet court proceedings.

The following year, the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld Compton’s conviction but sought insight from the judiciary on clearer guidance when it comes to social media use in the courtroom.

At issue for the Judicial Qualifications Commission was whether live tweeting or micro-blogging violated rule 2.17 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which forbids broadcasting of court proceedings. The JQC opined that tweeting did not constitute broadcasting because it is ‘qualitatively different’ than transmitting a person’s actual voice and image. However, the JQC did note that judges will still have the discretion to regulate the use of Twitter inside the courtroom so long as such regulations are considered reasonable.

“The information is going to get out either way, in my opinion,” said Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann. “Allowing someone to quietly tweet in a courtroom so long as it is not distracting and drawing attention is a way to make sure that the reporting is accurate.”

The commission noted that Twitter, in many respects, is similar to a reporter taking notes during a trial and then relaying those observations during a break in the proceedings.

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Cracking down on child porn offenders

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INDIANA (WFIE) –

Under Indiana Law, it’s illegal to download child porn, but not to stream it, but a bill passed through the Statehouse aims to help fill those cracks in the system.

Prosecutor Nick Hermann told 14 News the loophole comes into play when people watch child pornography through a streaming service.
Since they’re not downloading anything, they’re not considered in possession of it.

House Bill 1091 intends to address that issue. It passed through the house unanimously during a reading this week, backed by at least four local legislators.

“Now, there’s no cost, there’s no time and no barriers to access. Anybody that has internet can get on these sites and
can stream these things. So, it makes it more difficult,” Hermann said. “So, having this bill go through and addressing the issue from a technology standpoint, it makes sense.”

If the Bill passes the Senate, it’ll head to the Governor’s desk and could be signed into law by July 1.

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Prosecutor Nick Hermann talks EPD misconduct case

Prosecutor Nick Hermann talks EPD misconduct case

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Warrant issued for witness involved in mistrial; hundreds of cases could be affected

VANDERBURGH CO., IN (WFIE) –

“I don’t want to say it’s a first.  But it’s certainly not the norm.”Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 3.32.07 PM

Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann calling a press conference Friday afternoon to address lingering questions surrounding the Caleb Loving mistrial.

In a joint motion Wednesday morning, Vanderburgh County Circuit Court Magistrate Judge Kelli Fink declared the Loving case a mistrial.

Loving is facing charges of arson and manufacturing an explosive device for incidents that happened in July of 2015.

According to the court docket, Judge Fink declared a mistrial because a court-appointed witness got into a car crash Tuesday afternoon.  And the accuracy of the mental health reports from that witness were called into question.Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 3.31.46 PM

Prosecutor Hermann says the witness who caused the mistrial, now has a warrant out for his arrest for charges of obstruction of justice and theft.

That witness is Dr. Albert Fink, a clinical psychologist, with an office on Weinbach Avenue in Evansville.

Prosecutor Hermann says Dr. Fink is alleged to have falsified records in mental competency reports for cases in Vanderburgh County, and possibly across Indiana.

“It’s very, very rare.  But I think it’s the first time we’ve dealt with it on this scale,” explains Hermann.

When news of the mistrial came down Wednesday morning, both the defense and prosecution refused to comment on the circumstances of the decision until Friday.

Prosecutor Hermann explaining during a press conference that,” We needed time to go through our records, and determine the scope of what Dr. Fink’s actions meant to the criminal justice system.”

In the 48 hours that Prosecutor Hermann has had to digest these circumstances, his team has identified 70 cases in which Dr. Albert Fink submitted mental health competency reports.

“There’s always two court-appointed doctors who submit reports and findings.  Ultimately, it’s up to the court to determine whether an individual is competent or not for trial.  They certainly reference these doctor reports, but it’s ultimately up to the court to decide.  The court has a unique ability to do that because the court sees the defendant and interacts with the defendant at multiple times coming up to a trial.  I believe many of these cases Dr. Fink participated in, will stand.  But I do think this would provide a grounds in which you may see a challenge to some of those convictions or pleas.”

Public records through the Indiana Professional Licensing database show a history of complaints and actions taken towards Dr. Albert Fink, in both Indiana and Kentucky.

In a complaint filed in March of 1996, state authorities charged Dr. Fink with being incompetent or negligent in the practice of psychology.  Those charges based on allegations missed appointments, cursing at children, losing confidential school files, losing his temper, erratic behavior, and not following state guidelines for placement.

The complaint further explains that:

” On June 16, 1993 the Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychologists entered into an agreed order with Dr. Fink to surrender his license without admitting any wrongdoing.”

Dr. Fink agreed, in a written letter, to never apply again for a psychology license in Kentucky.

In public documents, Dr. Fink testified that the board in Kentucky began an investigation into his license only after he was found not guilty of criminal battery against a child in the Lincoln County School Corporation in June of 1991.

In 1996, the Indiana State Psychology Board dismissed the complaint against Dr. Fink stating:

” Fink did not violate any statutes or regulations in the practice of psychology in the state of Indiana.”

Prosecutor Nick Hermann says during an interview with authorities following his car crash Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Fink admitted to authorities he never even met with defendants in some of the cases he submitted reports.  Prosecutor Hermann said his team was shocked when they learned of the news Wednesday morning.

“It is the mission of this office to seek truth and seek justice of criminal acts.  These actions by Dr. Fink strike at the heart of our criminal justice system.  I would like to thank all the agencies involved in this investigation for their swift, attentive, and hard work.”

With limited options for court-appointed doctors throughout Indiana, Dr. Fink has submitted reports and testified in cases across Indiana.

Prosecutor Hermann says other prosecutors in the state are combing through records, and more charges are possible for Fink.

If enough evidence exists to re-open a case, Prosecutor Hermann says it only victimizes the victim all over again.

“Defendants choose to commit crimes.  They choose to put themselves in that position.  Victims never asked for this.”

Dr. Albert Fink will be transported to the Vanderburgh County Jail, once he’s released from a hospital near Bloomington.

Copyright 2016 WFIE. All rights reserved.

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Indiana governor Mike Pence’s drug task force is in full swing.

The task force met at USI on Thursday.

Vanderburgh county prosecutor Nicholas Hermann says heroin is on the rise in the Tri-State.  He thinks some of it could be coming from an unlikely source.

“There’s a lot of stories about people that start abusing prescription drugs, and can’t pay $40 a pill at some point, or don’t have access to those,” Hermann says. “That then turn around to another drug like heroine, and start using it.”High res 2 Vand Co Prosecutors Office FC Logo

Governor Pence created his drug task force in September to evaluate the growing drug problem in Indiana and the united sates. A major topic of Thursday’s meeting — gateway drugs and eliminating access to drugs. Hermann also spoke on meth abuse.  He says even now, it’s still too easy for people to cut corners when buying pseudoephedrine.

“You could come out to a college campus and say, “Hey, I’ll buy you some alcohol if you buy me some pseudoephedrine,”” Hermann says. “”Here’s 40 dollars. Go in and get me a 15 dollar package of pseudoephedrine, you can keep the change.””

According to governor Pence, enforcement and prevention aren’t the only items the task force is charged with.  Treatment is also part of the plan. Although members have admitted that this part can be difficult.

Dr. Tim Kelly specializes in internal medicine in Indianapolis.  He says drug abusers that commit crimes need to be treated, but should still learn their lesson.

“Intoxication and addiction is never an excuse for criminal behavior,” Kelly says. “And once it is, we’re hosed.”

Enforcement is where Hermann started today.  But according to him, that’s not where this task force is going to end.

“Who’s responsibility is it to give them treatment, to slap their hand when they need it, to do these types of things,” Hermann said. “It’s everybody in this room.”

The task force’s next meeting will take place on November 19th.  The location will be in central Indiana.

Governor Pence Drug Task Force meets in EVV, discussion led by Prosecutor Nick Hermann

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Published on Aug 6, 2015

Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nicholas Hermann discusses Thursday’s hearing on murder suspect Paul McManus. McManus agreed to plead guilty in return for life in prison without the possibility of parole Thursday in Vanderburgh Circuit Court.

In-Depth: Paul McManus decision

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Drug sting nets five behind bars

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Is Evansville becoming a hub for drug shipments from across the country?

In the last 48 hours, arrest records show five people in Evansville were arrested for drugs and they reportedly revealed to detectives the drugs came from Atlanta, Nashville, and the West Coast.

Detectives busted three people on Tuesday, after a confidential source told them he planned to distribute shipments of meth throughout Evansville.

That meth was sent through the mail from cities on the West Coast.

That information led detectives to arrest Bill Arndell, Lisa Watson, and James Devault.

Since February 22nd, drug detectives say they’ve seized 373 grams of crystal meth.  That’s worth over $23,000 on the streets.

Prosecutor Nick Hermann says Evansville’s location makes us a one stop shop for drug dealers.

” This is a great city to live in, but it’s also a great place to bring drugs through,” explains Hermann.

” There’s lots of heroin coming down from Chicago, we see things coming up from Atlanta, and thing from Memphis.  Cocaine is obviously imported.  All these different types of drugs, they come through Evansville.”

Hermann says law enforcement recognize the need to exchange information cohesively, and that channel of information is leading to more and more busts for different agencies.

Copyright 2016 WFIE. All rights reserved.

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Prosecutor Nick Hermann updates community on crime trends in Evansville on October 6th, 2015:

evansville

http://www.14news.com/story/30202547/prosecutor-updates-community-on-crime-trends-in-evansville

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In-Depth: Major drug bust culminates after two year investigation

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Hundreds of thousands of dollars in crystal meth are taken off Tri-State streets thanks to a two year investigation involving more than 20 local and federal law enforcement agencies.
Dozens of warrants are issued targeting a major drug trafficking operation, and authorities say 74 lbs. of meth is seized in Evansville. Investigators believe most of the drugs were smuggled over the Mexican border.
The investigation started in January 2013 with tips from concerned citizens. Nearly 40 people have been arrested in total with more arrests expected in the coming days.
Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann sits down with Brad Byrd to explain how this alleged drug trafficking operation ended up in Evansville.
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Prosecutor Nick Hermann says recently many people have expressed outrage that penalties for DUI cases were actually lowered last year when the criminal code changed.

This is starting to come to light now with recent fatal accidents, police say were fueled by alcohol.

Before last year, operating a vehicle under the influence causing death meant 6-to-20 years where you have to serve half the time. Now it’s 2-to-12 years where you have to serve 75 percent of the time.

On Thursday Michael Gann, who police say was four times over the legal limit when he was involved in a fatal wreck back in March, made his first court appearance.

What’s different about the case against Gann is that one accident involved three different victims.

Still very early in the process, but if Gann is found guilty, a judge will have to decide if the penalties should back-to-back or all at the same time.

Prosecutor Hermann says the state will push for consecutive sentences because all three victims, even though it was one accident, deserve justice.

“We do have three victims and we do want to pursue it and we will ask the court, if given the opportunity, that the court take a look at that and possibly put in consecutive sentences and give each victim a sense of justice,” says Hermann.

Michael Gann’s attorney said she did not wish to comment, saying it’s far too early in the process.

Gann’s next court appearance on June 8.

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Convicted murderer Jeffrey Weisheit is sentenced to death by a Clark County, Indiana judge.

Weisheit was found guilty last month of setting fire to his girlfriend’s home, killing her two young children inside back in April 2010. In addition to the two murder convictions, Weisheit was also convicted of Arson.

Weisheit was wheeled into court Thursday morning for his sentencing hearing in a wheelchair. Donning a yellow jumpsuit, handcuffed to the chair.

At the hearing both sides were allowed to speak.

The prosecutor reminded the judge that he must abide by the jurors’ decision on the death penalty. The same jurors who found Weisheit guilty unanimously recommended that he be executed. The judge is bound by the jury’s recommendation if it is unanimous.

The family will also able to make a statement to the judge and express their feelings on the case.

Lisa Lynch, mother of Caleb and Alyssa, read a long letter. Incredible emotions as she told the court about her children.

Weisheit joins 12 other Indiana prison inmates currently on death row. He is scheduled to receive lethal injection on June 19, 2014 in Michigan City.

Of the 94 inmates sentenced to death in Indiana since 1977, 20 have been executed. Sixteen of those executions came after the defendants exhausted all appeals.

Read the full death sentence order here.