A convicted Pike County murderer will have to wait a bit longer to hear of his fate.
A re-sentencing hearing for Chris Helsley that was set for this upcoming Monday will now take place on April 21st of next year. The case is being handled by Dubois County Circuit Court Judge William Weikert. Weikert is hearing the case because Pike County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Biesterveld was prosecuting the case when Helsley was convicted, thus he had to recuse himself.
Pike County Prosecutor Darrin McDonald says the sentencing phase of the trial was originally scheduled to take three days. However, Helsley’s defense attorneys listed 16 witnesses and stated that it would take more than three days. Thus, the case was moved to April when more days are available on the court calendar.
Now Helsley was originally convicted of murdering then-Pike County EMT’s Brad Maxwell and Marsha Hale back in April of 2001. He filed a petition back in May of this year claiming that he had been inadequately represented both in the trial and in the sentencing phase. He also requested a hearing to overturn both the sentence and his conviction.
On hearing day, Helsley and the state reached a last minute agreement that called for his conviction to be upheld, but his original sentence of Life Without Parole would be overturned and re-tried.
At that hearing, McDonald cited statements from Michael Keating (Helsley’s attorney) concerning the original trial and sentencing. Keating stated that he felt his trial defense was adequate, but the defense during the sentencing hearing “might have been substandard.”
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Gov. Mike Pence is set to provide more details about his second-year agenda he says will focus on education, road construction and other economic issues.
Pence is scheduled to speak Thursday at a legislative conference put on annually by the Indianapolis law firm Bingham Greenbaum Doll. He has already said he plans spending his second session with the General Assembly pushing for a range of issues broadly focused on improving the state’s economy.
Included in his second-year agenda is a measure that would expand the number of charter schools. Others would search for ways to pay for new road construction and consider recommendations on improving career preparation among students.
Pence had moderate success pushing through his initiatives during his first legislative session this year.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – A Democratic elections lawyer is suing the State Board of Education for allegedly violating the state’s open meetings law.
Bill Groth (GROTHE) alleges the 10 gubernatorial appointees on the board held a serial meeting when they emailed plans in October to move calculation of the state’s school grades to a legislative department.
Groth filed the suit Wednesday on behalf of four plaintiffs including a former Lafayette schools superintendent.
Indiana’s public access counselor determined last month the board didn’t violate the open meetings law but had come close to doing so.
A Marion County judge dismissed a similar lawsuit filed by Democratic schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz, ruling she must have approval from the attorney general before suing other state officials.
Officials with the City of Huntingburg have reported a water main leak along 4th Street between Main Street (US 231) and Jackson Street.
Residents and businesses in the area may experience low water pressure and/or discolored water. Officials ask folks to use caution when driving through the area.
A local industrial company has a new group to help with giving in the area.
A new philanthropy group known as Today and Tomorrow was founded earlier this year by associates of Jasper Engines and transmissions.
The mission of JETT is to create a unique giving experience that allows Jasper Engines & Transmissions associates and their families the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of philanthropy, while combining resources to be used for the betterment of their communities.
In early November, the group had a party at which each of four charities — Dubois County Community Meal, Anderson Woods, Mentors for Youth of Dubois County and Young Life — took about 10 minutes to educate JETT members on the charity’s focus, who it serves and how it would use a grant if awarded.
After the presentations, the members of JETT weighed the merits and possible outreach of the organizations and then took an anonymous vote to determine the grant recipient.
On November 14th, the group presented its inaugural JETT grant of $7,575 to Dubois County Community Meal Director Mike Hagerdon.
Hagerdon said the entire grant will be used to reach out to schoolchildren who are on the free or reduced-price lunch program and help bridge the hurdle for when they are not in school.
A founding member of JETT Mark Balsmeyer says in addition to giving the grant, the associates put just over 5-thousand dollars into their endowment fund.
The court fight between the city of Jasper and Healthy Dubois County over the conversion of the city’s power plant to biomass drags on.
Late last week, Judge Sherry Gregg Gilmore issued a partial summary judgment in favor of the city of Jasper. The ruling comes following a request by city attorneys to limit the new trial to only the allegations that were not a part of the first trial.
The ruling means that six executive sessions included in the original open door complaint made by defendant Healthy Dubois County back in August of 2011 will no longer be included in the proceedings of the new trial. The new trial also was rescheduled as a part of the decision. The trial will now be held on April 15th and 16th of next year rather than on the originally scheduled dates of January 14th and 15th. The new trial had been set following a successful appeal of Judge Lucy Goffinet’s original ruling in favor of the city of Jasper.
Back in January of 2012, Goffinet ruled that the executive sessions in question did not violate the Indiana Open Door Law as Healthy Dubois County had charged. She also refused the group’s request for more discovery concerning a volunteer group that met as few as 13 and as many as 15 times during negotiations with Jay Catasien to lease the plant to Twisted Oak Corporation of Atlanta, Georgia. Healthy Dubois County appealed concerning the volunteer group and that appeal was granted by the Indiana Court of Appeals and thus the new trial was set for January of next year.
Now back in October, Judge Gilmore heard arguments on both sides concerning a request to limit the scope of the trial. HDC attorney Too Keller of Carmel-based law firm Keller Macaluso told the court at the time that the appellate court’s decision allowed for a new trial to take place. He further argued that the six executive sessions should be included in the trial due to the role played by the volunteer group. Meanwhile, city of Jasper attorney Greg Neibarger of Bingham Greenebaum Doll argued that the volunteer group should be the sole subject of the trial and the executive sessions should be excluded.
In a statement, Jasper Utility Service board chairman Wayne Schuetter says the board is happy to receive the decision in their favor. He further says the board appreciates the judge’s diligence and thoroughness.
Motorists driving north along the new Interstate 69 near Crane have had to get off of the highway fairly quickly over the last year. However, officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation says work on Section 4 of the highway is holding close to schedule.
Section 4, which is set to link Crane to State Road 37 in Bloomington, is continuing to be built according to INDOT spokeswoman Cher Elliott. In the meantime, drivers making the northern trip along the highway have been forced to drive along curvy two lane highways in order to continue northward through the construction zone.
Elliott says the geography of the area where Section 4 is being built has proven to be a bit more difficult for workers than the initial sections:
Elliott also says weather has played a factor this year. She says weather plays a big role in construction season:
The increase in precipitation has brought a delay in the project. Elliott says the rain has mostly caused problems as crews are doing dirt work to get the area ready for a paved highway, which is something that cannot be done in rainy weather.
Elliott says some of Section 4 will be open on schedule, but some of it may not open to traffic until 2015.
Now Section 4 of the highway will also include the addition of several new interchanges according to Elliott. These will be State Road 45, State Road 445, and State Road 37 on the south side of Bloomington. An interchange with US 231 in Greene County was added as part of the finishing work on Section 3 of the project.