All posts by admin

Hatfield Man Pleads Guilty to Meth and Firearms Charges

Anthony Barnes to Receive Prison Sentence of 15 Years
Through Agreement Reached with Prosecutors

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

NOVEMBER 21, 2017 ROCKPORT, IN–  Anthony L. Barnes, 41, of Hatfield plead guilty this morning to Possession of Methamphetamine over 28 grams as a Level 3 Felony and Possession of Firearms by a Serious Violent Felon as a Level 4 Felony in Spencer Circuit Court.  Barnes entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors just prior to the commencement of the jury trial in his case.

Barnes was arrested March 16 on multiple felony charges.  Indiana State Police had surrounded Barnes’ residence in Hatfield on February 17 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.

The search warrant was executed by Deputy Blake Clark of the Spencer County Sheriff’s Department with the assistance of Deputy David Hall and ISP Trooper Kaitlyn Greene.  During the search of Barnes’ residence, officers located over 40 grams of methamphetamine, three weapons–a .40 caliber Taurus handgun, a Beretta 9mm handgun and a Springfield .22 caliber long rifle, along with a variety of ammunition and shell casings.  Barnes was prohibited from possessing firearms due to a prior felony conviction of Attempted Escape in 2001 which is considered a serious violent felony under Indiana law.  Reports of shots being fired by neighboring residents including one neighboring home being struck by bullets began the investigation that ultimately led to the request for a search warrant by the Spencer County Sheriff’s Department.  During the search for weapons, officers located over 40 grams of methamphetamine and then a second search warrant was requested for evidence of methamphetamine and controlled substances.  Five prescription narcotic pills were also found during the search.

Following execution of the search warrant, charges were filed and an arrest warrant issued for Barnes on February 23.  Barnes was apprehended on March 16 in Evansville by U.S. Marshals and transported to the Spencer County Law Enforcement Center by the Indiana State Police where he continues being held on bond of $300,000 surety or $30,000 cash pending the final sentencing hearing .

According to Prosecuting Attorney, Dan Wilkinson, “This would have been a serious case in any event, but was even more serious in that the actions of the Defendant posed a significant danger to neighboring residents.  The Defendant will spend at least the next decade behind bars which is an appropriate result in this case.  I appreciate the work of Deputy Blake Clark and assisting officers in collecting and securing the evidence in this case, as well as the efforts of the Indiana State Police SWAT team in insuring the safety of everyone involved.  My office will continue to take the meth problem in Spencer County seriously and seek stiff penalties in appropriate cases where the evidence and the law allow .”

Barnes is expected to appear for sentencing in the Spencer Circuit Court before Senior Judge William Weikert on Tuesday, January 23 at 9:00 A.M. following completion of a pre-sentence investigation report.  Under the agreement reached with the Spencer County Prosecutor’s Office, Barnes will receive a sentence of 15 years fully executed at the Indiana Department of Correction.

Members of the public are encouraged to report suspicious activity.  Tips and information can be provided anonymously by calling the Spencer County Crime Tip Line at (800) 615-6088 or by submitting information online at spencoprosecutor.org.

Prosecutor Comments on Court Request for Second Courtroom and Future Magistrate

14-WFIE reporter Brittany Harry spent some time in Rockport this morning covering the recent effort by Spencer Circuit Court Judge Jon Dartt to create a second courtroom to deal with the increasing caseload in Spencer County and his separate request for the State to create a magistrate (which can be described as an assistant or deputy judge) position for the court.  As noted in the story, the court in Spencer County ranked as third busiest (calculated as the number of cases per judge) in Indiana in 2016.  Spencer County is one of the few jurisdictions where all cases of every type are handled by just one judge.  Senior judges and judges from neighboring Perry County have been assigned to help with the workload, but with essentially only one courtroom available, cases still must be handled one at a time.

Ms. Harry contacted Prosecuting Attorney, Dan Wilkinson, to get his thoughts on why these changes are so sorely needed in Spencer county.  The epidemic of methamphetamine, heroin, prescription opioids, as well as synthetic and other drugs continues to overwhelm and stress the local justice system through the increasing number of criminal cases and increased child neglect cases.  You can watch the 14 News video which includes some of Prosecutor Wilkinson’s comments below…

Lamar Man Sentenced Following Guilty Plea in Child Abuse Case

Jason Tribbie Sentenced to 17 years with 11 Years Executed on Nov. 3

November 3, 2017 ROCKPORT, IN–  Jason S. Tribbie, 38 of Lamar, was sentenced on Friday, November 3 in the Spencer Circuit Court for one count of Aiding, Inducing or Causing Child Molesting as a Class C felony, one count of Aiding, Inducing, or Causing Sexual Misconduct with a Minor as a Level 4 felony, and one count of Maintaining a Common Nuisance as a Level 6 felony.  Spencer Circuit Court Judge Jon Dartt handed down the sentence after accepting the terms of a plea agreement entered into by Tribbie with the Spencer County Prosecutor’s Office.

The Indiana State Police and Spencer County Department of Child Services began an investigation in October 2016 after Tribbie contacted the Indiana State Police seeking to provide information that his girlfriend had engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with a minor.  During the course of the investigation, law enforcement discovered that Tribbie had, in fact, been involved in arranging and encouraging inappropriate sexual contact with two young males while they were under the age of 16.  As part of the investigation, a search warrant was executed at Tribbie’s home where evidence of possession and use of methamphetamine was also discovered leading to drug related charges, including Maintaining a Common Nuisance. Indiana State Police Detective Jason Dunsworth conducted the investigation with the assistance of Spencer County Sheriff’s Deputy Kelli Reinke.  Tribbie was arrested on October 5, 2016 on the drug related charges and later charged on January 23, 2017 with the sex crime offenses.  Tribbie had remained incarcerated at the Spencer County Law Enforcement Center since October 5, 2016 on a bond of $300,000 surety/$30,000 cash.   

Tribbie entered into a plea agreement regarding the charges on October 6, 2017 and entered guilty pleas to Aiding, Inducing or Causing Child Molesting, a Class C felony, Aiding, Inducing or Causing Sexual Misconduct with a Minor, a Level 4 felony, and Maintaining a Common Nuisance, a Level 6 felony.  Pursuant to the agreement accepted by the Court, Tribbie was sentenced to 17 years to the Indiana Department of Correction with 11 years of the sentence to be executed and 6 years to be suspended.  Upon release from the Department of Correction, Tribbie is subject to GPS monitoring, is required to register as a sex offender, and will be subject to very strict special probation conditions for adult sex offenders.

Following the sentencing on November 3, Spencer County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Wilkinson said, “I commend Detective Jason Dunsworth for his extensive and thorough investigation in this case.  It is because of those efforts that we were able to achieve a substantial sentence in this case by agreement without subjecting the victims to the ordeal of testifying at depositions and trials.  Our local protocol and multi-disciplinary team for child abuse investigations worked well in this case and allowed us to develop the evidence needed to bring a successful prosecution.”  

The public is encouraged to report suspected child abuse or neglect by calling the Indiana Department of Child Services at (800) 800-5556 or local law enforcement. Anyone with information regarding criminal activity of any kind may leave a tip anonymously through the Spencer County Crime Tip Line at (800) 615-6088 or online at http://spencoprosecutor.org/crime-tip-line/.

Santa Claus Man Sentenced Following Guilty Plea in Child Abuse Case

Gage Nelson Sentenced to 16 Years with 10 Years Executed on Oct. 20

October 20, 2017 ROCKPORT, IN–  Gage L. Nelson, 20 of Santa Claus, was sentenced on Friday, October 20 in the Spencer Circuit Court for two counts of Child Molesting as Level 3 felonies and one count of Child Solicitation as a Level 5 felony.  Spencer Circuit Court Judge Jon Dartt handed down the sentence after accepting the terms of a plea agreement entered into by Nelson with the Spencer County Prosecutor’s Office.

The Santa Claus Police Department and Spencer County Department of Child Services began an investigation in December 2015 after receiving information that Nelson, who was 18 years old at the time, had inappropriate sexual contact with an 11 year-old girl.  During the course of the investigation, Santa Claus Marshals Matt Keller and James Faulkenburg discovered that Nelson had also had an inappropriate relationship with another 13 year-old female and had solicited another 13 year-old female for sex.  Spencer County Prosecuting Attorney, Dan Wilkinson, filed for an arrest warrant for Nelson on May 13, 2016 and Nelson was arrested and transported to the Spencer County Law Enforcement Center that same day.  Nelson has been held at the Spencer County Law Enforcement Center on $20,000 cash bond since that time.

Nelson entered into a plea agreement regarding the charges on September 1 and entered guilty pleas to two Counts of Child Molesting as Level 3 felonies and to one Count of Child Solicitation as a Level 5 felony.  Pursuant to the agreement accepted by the Court, Nelson was sentenced to 16 years to the Indiana Department of Correction with 10 years of the sentence to be executed and 6 years to be suspended.  Upon release from the Department of Correction, Nelson will be required to register as a sex offender for life and will be subject to very strict special probation conditions for adult sex offenders.

Following the sentencing on October 20, Spencer County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Wilkinson said, “This is an example of our local protocol and multi-disciplinary team for child abuse investigations working as designed.  A report was made to the Department of Child Services, our multi-disciplinary team met and conducted a forensic interview at our designated interview location, law enforcement performed follow-up investigation and an arrest warrant was ultimately issued.  Thanks to the following of the protocol as well as the strength and perseverance of the victims who cooperated in the prosecution, the Defendant in this case will spend years in jail and prison followed by intensive supervision and registration requirements after his release.”  

The public is encouraged to report suspected child abuse or neglect by calling the Indiana Department of Child Services at (800) 800-5556 or local law enforcement. Anyone with information regarding criminal activity of any kind may leave a tip anonymously through the Spencer County Crime Tip Line at (800) 615-6088 or online at http://spencoprosecutor.org/crime-tip-line/.

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.