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UPDATE: Jasper Man Receives Maximum Sentence for Dealing Methamphetamine

Cotto Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison on September 5 Following June 21 Conviction by Spencer County Jury

Booking photo of Sixto Cotto from the Spencer County Law Enforcement Center.

September 11, 2017 ROCKPORT, IN–  Sixto Cotto, 60 of Jasper, was convicted on Wednesday, June 21 by a Spencer County jury of two counts of Dealing in Methamphetamine as Level 5 felonies and one count of Possession of Methamphetamine as a Level 6 felony.  The jury of six men and six women deliberated for approximately twenty minutes following a day and a half of testimony that concluded on June 21.

Spencer County Sheriff’s Department Deputy, Kelli Reinke, arrested Cotto on February 27 of this year following a month long investigation of Cotto with the cooperation of a confidential informant.  Cotto was observed and recorded delivering what was later determined to be 3.26 grams of methamphetamine to the informant during a controlled buy at the Stone’s Motel parking lot in Dale on February 16th.  Cotto then made a second delivery of what was later determined to be 3.19 grams of methamphetamine to the informant on February 24th at Kimball International near Santa Claus.  An arrest warrant was issued for Cotto on February 27 and he was arrested the same day by Deputy Reinke after stopping him in his vehicle on SR 162 near Santa Claus with the assistance of officers from the Santa Claus and Dale Police Departments.

Following the conviction on June 21, Spencer County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Wilkinson said, “I appreciate very much the time and effort Deputy Reinke put into this particular investigation and prosecution.  Mr. Cotto is a repeat drug dealer who didn’t learn a lesson from his previous prison sentence and has continued to spread methamphetamine in our community.  He deserves the stiffest penalty the law will allow.”  

Cotto was previously arrested for Dealing in Methamphetamine in Spencer County on January 24, 2003 and later plead guilty to possession of 29 grams of methamphetamine within 1000 feet of David Turnham Elementary School as a Class A felony.  Cotto received a sentence of 50 years in 2004 that was later reduced by the Indiana Court of Appeals to 30 years.  Cotto had been released from prison only slightly more than a year prior to his arrest in this case on February 27.

Spencer Circuit Court Judge Jon Dartt held a sentencing hearing on July 21 at which Spencer County Prosecutor Dan Wilkinson argued for the maximum sentence of 12 years.  Judge Dartt issued his final decision on September 5 and sentenced Cotto to the maximum sentence of 12 years in prison at the Indiana Department of Correction.  Cotto will be required to serve 75% of the sentence at the Indiana Department of Correction.

After the Court issued its sentencing order, Prosecutor Dan Wilkinson said, “I am pleased that Cotto received the maximum sentence.  Those who sell and distribute methamphetamine and other dangerous drugs and especially repeat offenders deserve and should receive harsher penalties and Sixto Cotto most definitely falls into that category.”

Anyone with information regarding drug activity in Spencer County is encouraged to report the information anonymously through the Crime Tip Line at (800) 615-6088 or at http://spencoprosecutor.org/crime-tip-line/.

Jasper Man Found Guilty of Dealing in Methamphetamine

Convicted on June 21 by Spencer County Jury
Sentencing Set for July 21 at 11:00 AM

Booking photo of Sixto Cotto from the Spencer County Law Enforcement Center.

June 21, 2017 ROCKPORT, IN–  Sixto Cotto, 60 of Jasper, was convicted on Wednesday, June 21 by a Spencer County jury of two counts of Dealing in Methamphetamine as Level 5 felonies and one count of Possession of Methamphetamine as a Level 6 felony.  The jury of six men and six women deliberated for approximately twenty minutes Wednesday following a day and a half of testimony.

Spencer County Sheriff’s Department Deputy, Kelli Reinke, arrested Cotto on February 27 of this year following a month long investigation of Cotto with the cooperation of a confidential informant.  Cotto was observed and recorded delivering what was later determined to be 3.26 grams of methamphetamine to the informant during a controlled buy at the Stone’s Motel parking lot in Dale on February 16th.  Cotto then made a second delivery of what was later determined to be 3.19 grams of methamphetamine to the informant on February 24th at Kimball International near Santa Claus.  An arrest warrant was issued for Cotto on February 27 and he was arrested the same day by Deputy Reinke after stopping him in his vehicle on SR 162 near Santa Claus with the assistance of officers from the Santa Claus and Dale Police Departments.

     Spencer County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Wilkinson said, “I appreciate very much the time and effort Deputy Reinke put into this particular investigation and prosecution.  Mr. Cotto is a repeat drug dealer who didn’t learn a lesson from his previous prison sentence and has continued to spread methamphetamine in our community.  He deserves the stiffest penalty the law will allow.”  

Cotto was previously arrested for Dealing in Methamphetamine in Spencer County on January 24, 2003 and later plead guilty to possession of 29 grams of methamphetamine within 1000 feet of David Turnham Elementary School as a Class A felony.  Cotto received a sentence of 50 years in 2004 that was later reduced by the Indiana Court of Appeals to 30 years.

Cotto will be sentenced before Judge Jon Dartt in the Spencer Circuit Court on July 21 at 11:00 A.M. where he could potentially receive up to 12 years in prison.  Cotto will be required to serve 75% of any sentence that he is ordered to serve at the Indiana Department of Correction.

Santa Claus Man Arrested for Child Exploitation Charge

Randall K. Allen, Jr. booking photo from the Spencer County Law Enforcement Center.

APRIL 6, 2017 ROCKPORT, IN—  Randall K. Allen, Jr., 40, of Santa Claus was arrested on March 29, 2017 on one count of Child Exploitation, a Level 5 Felony.  Task Force Officer Bryan R. Brown of the F.B.I. began an investigation of Allen in August 2015 concerning a report that Allen had transmitted images of child pornography to another individual through a website called Adult Friend Finder.  The Indiana State Police later assisted the F.B.I. with analyzing computer evidence and locating the alleged images of child pornography.

The Spencer County Prosecutor’s Office filed one criminal count of Child Exploitation as a Level 5 Felony against Allen with a request for an arrest warrant on March 27 alleging that Allen knowingly or intentionally disseminated ten images of child pornography to another person.  Allen was served with the warrant and taken into custody on March 29.

Allen is presently being held in the Spencer County Law Enforcement Center on bond of $40,000 surety or $4,000 cash.  According to Prosecuting Attorney, Dan Wilkinson, “Allen faces anywhere from 1-6 years at the Indiana Department of Correction on the charge, if convicted.”

Allen appeared by closed circuit video for an initial hearing in the Spencer Circuit Court on Thursday, April 6 at 10:00 A.M. where he was appointed a public defender and his next court appearance was set for May 5, 2017 at 9:00 A.M..

Under the law, criminal charges are merely accusations and all defendants are to be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Spencer County Man Sentenced for Possession of Child Pornography

Sentence follows conviction by
a Spencer County jury on March 1

Booking photo of Todd N. Thompson from the Spencer County Law Enforcement Center

March 21, 2017 ROCKPORT, IN–  The Spencer Circuit Court sentenced Todd Neal Thompson, 52, formerly of Evanston, on Tuesday following his conviction for possession of child pornography by a Spencer County jury on March 1.
Spencer County Sheriff’s Department Deputy, David Hall, in cooperation with the Spencer County Department of Child Services executed a search warrant for Thompson’s home on September 19, 2014 for computers and various electronic storage devices.  An analysis of the seized evidence by Indiana State Police forensic Computer examiner, Det. Sgt. David Price, identified 44 images of child pornography on Thompson’s personal computer and Thompson was later arrested following the issuance of an arrest warrant.

A Spencer County jury of three women and three men (and two alternates) heard testimony during the course of a day and a half trial that concluded on March 1.  The jury convicted Thompson of one count of possession of child pornography, a Level 6 felony, and acquitted Thompson on several other related Counts involving possession of some of the same images on different dates.  Thompson was ordered back into the custody of the Spencer County Law Enforcement Center pending sentencing following his conviction.

At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, Spencer Circuit Court Judge, Jon A. Dartt, sentenced Thompson to the maximum sentence of 2 1/2 years with 1 year to be served in the Spencer County Law Enforcement Center and the remaining 1 1/2 year to be served on supervised probation.  As a result of the conviction, Thompson will be required to register as a sex offender and be subject to special probation conditions for adult sex offenders.

“While I am pleased with the sentence handed down by the Court, I am disappointed that the defendant in this case is not eligible to be sent to prison following the recent criminal code reforms passed by the Indiana General Assembly which does not generally allow Level 6 felons to serve time in the Department of Correction.  Child pornography is not a victimless crime.  Those who view child pornography or make it available to others are actively contributing to the perpetuation of child abuse caused by the creation of such material and are directly victimizing those children by once again invading their privacy.  They also provide continued financial motive for producers of this material by helping perpetuate the existence of this underground industry.”    
Spencer County Prosecuting Attorney, Dan Wilkinson

Suspect in Recent Hatfield Standoff Apprehended

Anthony Barnes booking photo from the Spencer County Law Enforcement Center.

MARCH 16, 2017 ROCKPORT, IN–  Anthony L. Barnes, 40, of Hatfield was arrested March 16 on multiple felony charges.  Indiana State Police had surrounded Barnes’ residence in Hatfield on February 16 to assist the Spencer County Sheriff’s Department in executing a search warrant obtained with the assistance of the Spencer County Prosecutor’s Office.  After a lengthy standoff, it was ultimately determined that Barnes was not inside the residence and, despite phone negotiations, Barnes never returned to the home.

Following execution of the search warrant, charges were filed and an arrest warrant issued for Barnes for Dealing in Methamphetamine, a Level 2 Felony; Possession of Methamphetamine, a Level 3 Felony; Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Serious Violent Felon, a Level 4 Felony; Possession of a Narcotic Drug, a Level 5 Felony; and Possession of Paraphernalia, a Class C Misdemeanor.

Barnes was apprehended on Thursday in Evansville by U.S. Marshals and transported to the Spencer County Law Enforcement Center by the Indiana State Police where he is presently being held on bond of $300,000 surety or $30,000 cash.  According to Prosecuting Attorney, Dan Wilkinson, “Barnes faces anywhere from 10-30 years on the Dealing charge and 2-12 years on the firearm charge.  I know many nearby residents were concerned and anxious for Barnes to be apprehended and I’m glad we can report that the U.S. Marshals were able to assist in getting the warrant served and placing Mr. Barnes in custody.”

Barnes is expected to appear for an initial hearing in the Spencer Circuit Court on Tuesday, March 21 at 1:00 P.M.  Further court dates will be set at that time.

Under the law, criminal charges are merely accusations and all defendants are to be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Local Conviction Upheld by Indiana Court of Appeals

     On January 27, 2017, the Indiana Court of Appeals issued its opinion in the case of Roger D. Wilkinson, Jr. v. State of Indiana,  involving the appeal of convictions following a jury trial that took place in the Spencer Circuit Court in September of 2015.

The Facts…

April 10, 2015, at approximately 10:00 a.m., a local resident (C.U.) returned home and found a strange, gray BMW parked in her driveway. She saw an individual, later identified as Roger Wilkinson, slumped over in the front seat. C.U. went into her house to ask her husband, S.U., if he was expecting a visitor. S.U. indicated he was not, and went outside to investigate. C.U. followed, and the two approached the vehicle and observed Wilkinson holding his hand over his eyes and rocking back and forth. Wilkinson appeared disoriented and unsteady. He had trouble keeping his head up, and slurred his words. The vehicle’s windshield was damaged, and there was extensive damage to the driver’s side. The property owners asked Wilkinson if he needed help. He replied that he was “okay.” S.U. called 911 because both he and C.U. thought Wilkinson needed assistance.

Officer James Faulkenburg with the Santa Claus Police Department arrived on the scene first, followed by Sergeant Harold Gogel and Deputy Marvin Heilman with the Spencer County Sheriff’s Department.  The officers determined Wilkinson was the individual seated behind the wheel, and that the vehicle was registered to B.C. B.C. had loaned the car to his daughter for her personal use.

Wilkinson appeared to be sleeping and was slumped over behind the steering wheel. The officers noticed the damage to the vehicle, but determined that it was drivable. Emergency medical personnel also responded to the scene, but left shortly after arriving because the officers determined they were not needed.

Gogel and Faulkenburg approached the driver’s side of the vehicle. Heilman approached from the passenger side.  Faulkenburg asked Wilkinson if he was okay and if he needed any medical attention. Wilkinson stated that he did not know.  Faulkenburg noticed that Wilkinson’s speech was slurred, but he showed no signs of physical injury.  Faulkenburg opened the driver’s side door and observed a plastic vial laying between Wilkinson’s legs.  Faulkenburg placed the vial on top of the vehicle.

Heilman, who was on the other side of the vehicle, saw a partially filled bottle of rum on the floorboard.  He opened the passenger-side door and entered the vehicle.  Once inside, he saw a hand-rolled cigarette he believed to be a marijuana cigarette. Neither he nor Gogel smelled alcohol on Wilkinson, but Heilman thought Wilkinson looked lethargic, and seemed to be impaired, and might be under the influence of illegal drugs.  Gogel noticed a package of cigarette rolling papers on the vehicle’s floorboard.

Faulkenburg asked Wilkinson to exit the vehicle, but had to lend assistance because Wilkinson was unable to do so on his own. Wilkinson was patted down. A cloth bag was found in the front pocket of his hooded sweatshirt. A syringe and a small glass jar were found inside of the bag. Wilkinson was placed in handcuffs and seated on the ground.

Heilman eventually took possession of the plastic vial that was found between Wilkinson’s legs. Without opening the vial, he determined it contained a hand-rolled cigarette and plastic bags that contained powdery substances. The vial was opened and it was confirmed that it contained three plastic bags that contained a white, powdery substance. The substances from two of the bags were tested using a field test kit. They tested positive for methamphetamine.

Gogel asked Wilkinson if he would take a field sobriety test at the scene, or a certified test at the law enforcement center. Wilkinson declined. At some point he was arrested and taken to jail, and the vehicle was impounded.

After arriving at the jail, a warrant was obtained to take a sample of Wilkinson’s blood. His blood tested positive for amphetamine, methamphetamine, and THC – an active component of marijuana. The rolled cigarettes and the substances found in the plastic bags were analyzed by the Indiana State Police Laboratory. One of the cigarettes was found to contain marijuana. It was confirmed that the other substances contained methamphetamine. Wilkinson was charged with eight offenses related to possession of drugs and paraphernalia, and operation of a vehicle while intoxicated.

Convictions and Appeal

At the jury trial in September 2015, Wilkinson was convicted of Level 5 felony possession of methamphetamine, Level 6 felony Unlawful possession of syringe, Class A misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated, Class C misdemeanor operating a vehicle with a Schedule I or II controlled substance or its metabolite in the body, and Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana.  On appeal, Wilkinson argued that the evidence to support his convictions relating to operation of the vehicle was insufficient, that the search of his vehicle was unlawful, and that two jurors engaged in misconduct by failing to disclose knowing or being familiar with a relatively minor witness (B.C.) in the case.

The Court of Appeals held that there was more than enough evidence to support the convictions for operating while intoxicated and operating a vehicle with a controlled substance in the body.  As to the search of the vehicle, the Court held that the search was lawful based upon three exceptions to the warrant requirement:  the plain view doctrine, the medical assistance exception, and the automobile exception.  As to the claims of juror misconduct, the Court found that there was no substantial evidence that the two jurors were biased and concluded that Wilkinson failed to meet the burden required to show juror misconduct and had failed to show that the lack of disclosure was gross and caused him harm based upon a small acquaintance with one witness who merely testified as to the ownership of the vehicle .

Spencer Circuit Court Judge Jon Dartt conducted a hearing following the trial and convictions on Wilkinson’s claims of juror misconduct and both jurors were interviewed on the record.  The Court of Appeals stated that the trial court was well within its discretion to deny the claim.

Wilkinson is presently serving a six year sentence at the Indiana Department of Corrections as a result of his convictions.  The full text of the Court of Appeals opinion can be read here.

Upcoming Holiday Office Closures

Please be aware that the Spencer County Prosecutor’s Office along with other county government offices will be closed on the following dates during the holidays:

Friday, December 23, 2016
Monday, December 26, 2016

Friday, December 30, 2016
Monday, January 2, 2017

Our office will otherwise be open during normal business hours from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM on all other regular business days.

Upcoming Office Closures

Please be aware that the Spencer County Prosecutor’s Office along with other county government offices will be closed on the following dates:

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 (Election Day)

Friday, November 11, 2016 (Veterans Day)

Our office will otherwise be open on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday during normal business hours from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

dv-awarenessThe month of October has for many years now been designated as Domestic Violence Awareness month in an effort to bring more attention to the prevalence of domestic violence in our society and to promote actions designed to help break the cycle of violence in our communities.

The Spencer County Prosecutor’s Office has developed and implemented a number of policies and procedures designed to help victims escape from abusive situations and to help reduce the likelihood that offenders will repeat their abusive behaviors:

  • Obtaining no contact orders on behalf of victims
  • Referring victims to victim assistance programs
  • Adoption of a “no drop” policy with respect to DV charges
  • Referral of offenders to Batterer Intervention Programs in all cases
  • Development and presentation of training programs for law enforcement officers

The Spencer County Prosecutor’s Office is committed to combating this problem which is so prevalent in our community.  For more detailed information on our polices and procedures, click here.

We invite you to join us this Thursday, October 20 in showing your support and awareness of domestic violence issues by sharing a photo of you and/or your friends and co-workers wearing purple, the official color of DV Awareness Month.

Useful Links to Resources

Crisis Connection, Inc.
Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
National Domestic Violence Hotline

Technical Phone Difficulties

The main phone line for the Spencer County Prosecutor’s Office is currently down and not functioning.  Until the problem has been fixed, you can contact the office by telephone at 649-6495 or 649-6496.  You can also send us an e-mail through our contact page.

We apologize for any inconvenience and hope the problem is remedied very soon.