Elkhart County Prosecutor's Office

  • Agency: Elkhart County Prosecutor's Office
  • Address: 301 S. Main St, Suite 100, Elkhart, 46516 IN
  • Chief:
Phone: (574) 296-1888
Fax: (574) 296-1889
Email:

Elkhart County Prosecutor's Office is located at 301 S. Main St, Suite 100, Elkhart, 46516 IN. The Elkhart County Prosecutor's Office phone number is (574) 296-1888.

Elkhart County Prosecutor's Office News

DRUG RAID RESULTS IN THREE ARRESTS During the early morning hours of Tuesday, October 30, 2018, the Elkhart County Intelligence and Covert Enforcement (ICE) Unit, in a coordinated effort with the DEA, Elkhart Police Department, Nappanee Police Department, Goshen Police Department, and the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department, served four (4) search warrants in Elkhart County, Indiana making three (3) major felony arrests; Carlos Emanuel Valencia (36), Juan Guerrero-Camacho (30), and Miranda Ragsdale (26), all of Elkhart. These search warrants and arrests were the culmination of an approximate year-long investigation into significant criminal drug trafficking activity in Elkhart County, Indiana. Seized at the time of the raids were close to 1,318 grams (approximately (3) pounds) of Methamphetamine with a “street value” over $130,000, nearly $2,500 in cash, and a vehicle alleged to be used during drug trafficking activities. The ICE Unit and its law enforcement partners will continue to work tirelessly to bring to justice those responsible for spreading this poison in our communities. The investigation is on-going and additional arrests are anticipated. * * * Under Indiana law, all persons arrested for a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. http://bit.ly/2AEFheP

Press Conference regarding the 2011 murder of James Miller

NOTIFICATION OF PRESS CONFERENCE Elkhart County Prosecuting Attorney, Vicki Elaine Becker, will conduct a press conference on Tuesday, October 30 at 2:00 p.m. in the Court Room of the Goshen City Courthouse, 111 E. Jefferson Street; Goshen, Indiana. Mrs. Becker will give a statement regarding the 2011 murder of James Miller followed by a time for questions. **** “Under Indiana law, all persons arrested for a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”**** http://bit.ly/2JqUjYb

NEW EVIDENCE DISCLOSED BY DRIVER IN BEARDSLEY AVENUE HIT AND RUN CASE RESULTS IN GUILTY PLEA BEFORE TRIALS Leonard J. Grosswiler (43) of Elkhart, appeared in Circuit Court on Thursday morning, October 18, 2018. At that time, the State of Indiana filed an amended Information charging him with leaving the scene after an August 2017 accident on Beardsley Avenue in Elkhart which left three people dead and two others injured. Grosswiler entered a plea of guilty to all charges agreeing to a stipulated sentence of fifteen (15) years, with three (3) of those years suspended under the supervision of probation. Grosswiler had previously been charged only with Obstruction of Justice, a Level 6 felony, due to allegations he had destroyed evidence of the crime. His wife, Penelope A. Grosswiler (41), had been charged as the driver based upon information from two (2) eyewitnesses who thought the driver was female. However, new evidence which had previously been unavailable to the State was disclosed by the defendant which led to the change of charges and the plea. Relying upon Leonard Grosswiler’s sworn testimony that he, in fact, was driving the couple’s Cadillac at the time of the accident rather than his wife, the State amended the original Information and allowed Leonard Grosswiler to plead guilty to all charges of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death, Serious Bodily Injury, and Bodily Injury, as well as Obstruction of Justice. Under Indiana law, the maximum possible sentence for these offenses could total twenty-one and one-half (21½) years of incarceration. However, allowing Grosswiler to plead guilty with specific terms ensures not only the conviction, but also the sentence, without the opportunity for an appeal. Penelope Grosswiler also entered a plea of Guilty to Obstruction of Justice, a Level 6 felony, for her role in attempting to destroy evidence of the crime. Penelope was scheduled for trial the week of November 5, 2018, which has now been cancelled. Sentencing for both Leonard and Penelope Grosswiler will be Wednesday, December 12, 2018, at 1:30 p.m. in Elkhart Circuit Court. * * * Under Indiana law, all persons arrested for a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. http://bit.ly/2yLmbRU

NO CRIMINAL CHARGES TO BE FILED IN DEATH OF WORK RELEASE INMATE On Tuesday, July 31, 2018, the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office was advised that Laminika Dockery (36), of Elkhart, had suffered a medical emergency at the Elkhart County Community Corrections Work Release facility in Goshen, and died within a short time after being transported to Goshen Hospital by ambulance. The Elkhart County Coroner notified the Homicide Unit who began an investigation into the facts and circumstances of her death. Homicide investigators conducted interviews with all custody staff, administration, and numerous inmates at the Work Release facility, and learned that Miss Dockery began complaining of stomach pain shortly after she entered the facility the evening of Wednesday, July 25, 2018. Miss Dockery had tested positive for drugs in her system at the time she initially appeared at the facility. Therefore, she was not allowed to leave for employment or allowed any other pass for a standard period of seven (7) days. During those days in the facility, Miss Dockery made multiple requests for medical assistance to various staff members. However, believing that Miss Dockery was suffering from symptoms of drug abuse withdrawal, neither custody staff, nor administrative staff, obtained medical attention for Miss Dockery. The morning of her death, Miss Dockery was observed to be slow to respond and very weak. An ambulance was called at that time to tend to her needs and/or transport her for medical treatment. However, Miss Dockery became unresponsive in the ambulance, and passed away after emergency interventions at the hospital were unsuccessful. An autopsy revealed that Miss Dockery died as a result of a bacterial infection that had been untreated. As the circumstances leading to her death took place while she was in the custody of Elkhart County Community Corrections, a department of county government, the Elkhart County Homicide Unit took responsibility for the investigation. Prosecuting Attorney Vicki Becker reviewed the evidence in this case to determine if any formal charges might be appropriate under Indiana Criminal Law. Specifically considered was the criminal offense of Reckless Homicide. To file a formal charge of Reckless Homicide, the State must have evidence that a specific individual, or group of individuals, recklessly killed another person. That is, that the offender acted with “plain, conscious, and unjustifiable disregard of harm that might result [from their actions], and the disregard involves a substantial deviation from acceptable standards of conduct.” Indiana Code § 35-42-1-5 and Indiana Code § 35-41-2-2(c). Prosecutor Becker has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that any staff aware of Miss Dockery’s symptoms had belief that harm, specifically, death, would result from her complaints of stomach pain. Accordingly, the State is unable to proceed with criminal charges in the case as there is insufficient evidence to satisfy the necessary elements of a criminal act. In Indiana, a prosecuting attorney has authority to evaluate cases that may be actionable under its criminal laws. However, a prosecutor does not have authority to consider other actions under civil law. As no criminal laws appear to have been violated surrounding the circumstances of Miss Dockery’s death, no formal criminal charges will be filed. Ms. Becker has provided information to both the Elkhart County Board of Commissioners and the Executive Committee of the Community Corrections Advisory Board regarding pertinent facts and circumstances of the death, and is committed to working with both agencies toward improving Elkhart County Community Corrections. * * * Under Indiana law, all persons arrested for a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. http://bit.ly/2yrzeb5

Shout It Art Opening Ceremonies

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Know the facts. If you need help, call Victim Assistance at 574-523-2237. http://elkhartcountyprosecutor.com/programs-services/victim-assistance

*** MEDIA ADVISORY*** September 28, 2018 ELKHART COUNTY PROSECUTOR VICKI BECKER, VICTIMS ASSISTANCE AND THE ELKHART ART LEAGUE PRESENT THE SECOND ANNUAL “SHOUT IT ART!” On Sunday, October 7, 2018, the second annual “SHOUT IT ART!; Voices & Visions of Survivorship and Empowerment” will kick-off National Domestic Violence Awareness month with a showcase of art from several local artists putting a face on domestic violence in our community. The exhibition showcases art that captures expressions of empowerment from individuals affected by abuse such as domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, bias, discrimination, and exploitation. Featured artists are: Rebel Noire, poet and musician, and John Homan, poet. Other artists include Jake Webster, Fred Story, Kortney Malone, Lori Caskey-Sigety, Dorothy Jean Carter, Hillary Lucas, Alyse Chinnock, AR Drew, Greg Tenhave, Julian Alcantar and A Friend with a Song. There will also be art from victims, and agencies and individuals working in human services. Art is a powerful form of expression and healing. Many people find their “voice” by telling their story through art. “Shout It Art” allows those people space and time to exhibit their art and tell their story. “SHOUT IT ART!” is a month long exhibit and is free to the public. At the opening ceremonies on Sunday, October 7, 2018 from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. at 131-1B Tyler Street, Elkhart, Indiana 46516, Prosecutor Vicki Elaine Becker will present information regarding domestic violence. Art can be dropped off at Elkhart Art League, 131 Tyler St., Elkhart, IN. All mediums are welcome. For questions please contact Beth at 574-296-1791, Shelley at 574-296-1837 or Karin at 574-320-6160. Show your heart through your art. *** “Under Indiana law, all persons arrested for a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.” http://bit.ly/2Ojdc49

Prosecutor Becker proclaimed October Domestic Violence Awareness month with Elkhart Mayor Neese, Nappanee Mayor Jenkins, Goshen City Council Representative King, County Commissioner Weirick, CAPS President Konrath-Fielding and domestic violence surviors.

Prosecutor Becker attending the Tamron Hall Luncheon to promote Domestic Violence Awareness.

Prosecutor Becker leads the first night of Criminal Justice Citizens Academy with an overview of the criminal justice system.

GRAND JURY RETURNED INDICTMENTS ON FORMER PROCESS SERVERS In September, 2017, Sheriff Brad Rogers reported to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for Elkhart County, and the Indiana State Police, that several civilian Process Server employees of the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department appeared to have been claiming hourly compensation for work they did not actually perform. This behavior was discovered by a Sheriff’s Department supervisor, and further inquiry demonstrated at least 2500 hours worth of compensation claimed, but not worked, which totaled approximately $45,000.00 paid amongst three (3) employees between 2014 and 2017. The Process Servers were terminated from employment with the Sheriff’s Department. After discerning the depth of the alleged theft of unearned compensation, and reviewing the evidence and information collected, the Prosecuting Attorney convened a Grand Jury to further analyze the evidence and assist in the determination of whether criminal charges should be filed in the matter. Under Indiana law, a Grand Jury is an investigative body authorized to hear and examine evidence concerning events during which criminal activity may have occurred. The Grand Jury is the exclusive judge of facts with respect to any matter it considers, and may subpoena any person to provide information if it believes that person may have evidence it wishes to consider. The Prosecuting Attorney is the legal advisor of the Grand Jury and must approve any indictment for it to be valid. The Grand Jury commenced on September 11, 2018, and was a secret proceeding under Indiana Law. After two days of investigation assisted by Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys Lucas Shoemake and Geovanny Martinez, the Grand Jury returned a True Bill for each of the three Targets, and indicted Susan G. Graves, Mary E. Letherman, and Steven R. Mock, for the crime of Theft in an amount greater than $750, a Level 6 Felony. The Elkhart Circuit Court has accepted the Grand Jury’s return, pursuant to which an arrest warrant has issued for each subject. The Grand Jury process is very valuable to Prosecuting Attorney Vicki Becker as it assists her in understanding the general public’s perspective in certain types of cases. Engaged and impartial citizens such as these make our criminal justice system far better. Without the oversight, diligence, and transparency of the Sheriff’s Department, it is unlikely this behavior would have been brought to light. *** “Under Indiana law, all persons arrested for a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.” http://bit.ly/2xdZgPt

MIDDLEBURY MAN FOUND GUILTY OF RAPE FOLLOWING 2015 ASSAULT OF HIGH SCHOOL ACQUAINTANCE Ryan T. Baxter was found guilty this week of Rape, a Level 1 felony, and Strangulation, a Level 6 felony, after a three day jury trial in the Elkhart Superior Court 1. Baxter was formally charged after an investigation by the Middlebury Police Department established evidence that he had forced sexual intercourse on his victim, a young woman he had known from high school, while threatening deadly force. In August 2015, the victim and Baxter had reconnected over social media, which led to the two meeting again. Baxter was invited to the victim’s apartment in Middlebury, however he immediately started to make physical advances toward the victim that made her uncomfortable. Thereafter, Baxter forced the victim to have sexual intercourse while strangling her. Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys Kathleen Claeys and Patrick Dowd presented the case for the State of Indiana. The jury heard graphic evidence from the victim recounting her terror, and commitment to survive the ordeal so that she would be able to “point him out” when able to get help. The State also presented corroborating evidence from other witnesses, including the treating medical professional. Baxter also took the stand and testified on cross-examination that the intercourse was consensual, but wouldn’t specifically describe how the victim was consenting to the acts. Baxter further testified that although he and the victim had never had sexual intercourse before, his first instinct was to place his hand in a “firm grasp” around her neck as he performed his act. The twelve members of the jury rejected Baxter’s version of “consent” and found Baxter guilty. At the sentencing hearing scheduled for October 5, 2018, he will face a maximum penalty of forty (40) years at the Indiana Department of Correction. *** “Under Indiana law, all persons arrested for a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.” http://bit.ly/2MJOWZ6

PROSECUTOR SPONSORS CRIMINAL JUSTICE CITIZENS ACADEMY Elkhart County Prosecuting Attorney Vicki Elaine Becker announces the start of the tenth annual Criminal Justice Citizens Academy. Participants will gain insight into the operations of the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and related criminal justice agencies. The Academy will include presentations relating to criminal prosecutions, investigations, juvenile crimes, pre-trial diversion, victims assistance, child support and the general operations of the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney. In addition to classroom lectures, tours of the Prosecutor’s Office, Elkhart County Correctional Facility and the Elkhart County Court House will also be included. We offer a behind-the-scenes view of the criminal justice system from people who work in it every day. Our goal is to enhance the quality of knowledge in our community by providing academy members an opportunity to learn about the processes involved in criminal investigations and prosecutions. Past participants recommend the program as it “shows you how the whole justice system ties together,” and that “every citizen should have the knowledge of how the prosecuting system works.” According to one participant, “This class rocks! – not like you see on T.V.” The Academy will meet for eight consecutive weeks from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Elkhart IUSB campus beginning Thursday, September 20, 2018. The deadline for application submissions is September 10, 2018. Space is limited and certain requirements apply. There are no fees for participants. Interested persons can apply for the Academy through our website at http://elkhartcountyprosecutor.com/programs-services/citizens-criminal-justice-academy , or by contacting Shelley Murphy at (574) 296-1837 or smurphy@elkhartpa.com. * * * Under Indiana law, all persons arrested for a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. http://bit.ly/2018ProsCitizensAcademy

Final Races!

United Way Great Cardboard Race!

FUGUTIVE ANGELICA CASTILLO CHARGED WITH MURDER OF HUSBAND CAPTURED IN GEORGIA On August 21, 2018, Angelica Castillo was arrested by the Adel Police Department, Georgia, as a result of the Arrest Warrant issued by the Elkhart Circuit Court for the crime of Murder. Prosecuting Attorney Vicki Elaine Becker had filed the Murder charge against Castillo for killing her husband, Elder Castillo Sr., in May, 2018, on Hiawatha Drive, in Elkhart, Indiana. Officers from the Adel Police Department located Castillo’s vehicle during routine patrol at a Wal-Mart parking lot in that area. This is an on-going investigation, and additional information regarding the circumstances surrounding Mr. Castillo’s death and the subsequent absence of Angelica Castillo from the Elkhart County area is desired. If you have any information regarding these events, please contact the Elkhart County Homicide Unit at 574-295-2821 or 574-296-1888. * * * Under Indiana law, all persons arrested for a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. http://bit.ly/2LknETt

Each fall, The Elkhart County Prosecuting Attorney's Office offers the Criminal Justice Citizens Academy to the first 40 qualifying applicants. It is an opportunity to learn the inner workings of the Prosecuting Attorney's Office from prosecutors, judges, investigators and more. Apply today at: http://www.elkhartcountyprosecutor.com/programs-services/citizens-criminal-justice-academy

PROSECUTOR AND SHERIFF ISSUE JOINT PRESS RELEASE: PROSECUTOR REQUESTS GRAND JURY AFTER SHERIFF REPORTS SUSPECTED THEFT BY PROCESS SERVERS In September, 2017, Sheriff Brad Rogers reported to the Indiana State Police that several civilian employees of the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department appeared to have been claiming hourly compensation for work they did not actually perform. This behavior was discovered by a Sheriff’s Department supervisor, and further inquiry demonstrated at least 2500 hours of work and approximately $45,000.00 in compensation paid amongst three (3) employees between 2014 and 2017. The Process Servers were terminated from employment with the Sheriff’s Department. The Indiana State Police began an investigation and submitted same to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney of Elkhart County in late 2017. However, additional investigation was needed to discern the depth of the alleged theft of unearned compensation and additional materials were provided by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department to aid the Prosecutor’s investigation. After reviewing the evidence and information provided by the Indiana State Police, and the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department, the Prosecuting Attorney has notified the Elkhart Circuit Court of its desire to convene a Grand Jury to further analyze the evidence and assist in the determination of whether criminal charges should be filed in the matter. Without the oversight, diligence, and transparency of the Sheriff’s Department, it is unlikely this behavior would have been brought to light. Under Indiana law, a Grand Jury is an investigative body authorized to hear and examine evidence concerning events during which criminal activity may have occurred. The Grand Jury is the exclusive judge of facts with respect to any matter it considers, and may subpoena any person to provide information if it believes that person may have evidence it wishes to consider. However, no person has a right to present information to a Grand Jury except a Target suspect. The Prosecuting Attorney is the legal advisor of the Grand Jury and must approve any indictment for it to be valid. The Elkhart Circuit Court is summoning the Grand Jury to commence on September 11, 2018, beginning at 8:30 a.m.. The proceedings are secret and will not be open to the public pursuant to I.C. 35-34-2-4. * * * Under Indiana law, all persons arrested for a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. http://bit.ly/2AZpol4