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Judge rejects two separate plea agreements

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

(Photo)
Vance Smith
Plea agreements negotiated for the suspects alleged to be involved in two separate high-profile robbery cases in Clay County were rejected.

According to court documentation, Vance Smith, 38, Plainfield, is the alleged suspect in the Poland First Financial Bank robbery Nov. 23, 2007, and a separate bank robbery in Darlington, Ind., on Oct. 31, 2007.

On Jan. 28, Smith was formally charged in Clay Circuit Court with a class C felony robbery charge and a class C felony operating a vehicle after forfeiture of license for life. A review of Smith's prior criminal record, which showed he has accumulated three prior felony convictions, led to an additional filing of the habitual offender charge.

On Oct. 6, Smith appeared with his attorney Laura Paul before Judge Joseph Trout to enter a preliminary guilty plea as part of negotiated plea agreement with the Clay County Prosecutor's Office for court consideration.

Smith agreed to plead guilty to the robbery and operating a vehicle after forfeiture of license for life charges and be sent to the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) for concurrent sentence of 5 years, which would be suspended with the exception of 3 years to be served with good time credit (if earned) and credit for time previously served. The terms of the agreement were to be consecutive to any parole sentence Smith might have previously received.

Upon release, Smith would have been placed on formal probation for two years and agree to obey all laws, pay court costs and make restitution of $11,692 to the victims, have no contact with First Financial Bank or its employees, and not possess or consume alcohol or possess a firearm or ammunition. He also agreed to be subject to random drug screenings, waive constitutional rights for searches of his person, residence or vehicle and provide a DNA sample to authorities.

Upon reviewing the voluntary plea agreement, Trout rejected it on Nov. 3 and allowed time for Smith and his counsel to decide if he would make a motion to withdraw the previous guilty plea and continue with court proceedings.

If convicted of the original formal charges, Smith could face 2-8 years imprisonment and a fine of $10,000 per felony charge.

Returned to the custody of the Clay County Justice Center, Smith is expected to appear in court Wednesday for further court proceedings regarding the matter.

Trout also shot down another negotiated plea agreement for a separate robbery suspect.

(Photo)
Brandon Pierce
According to court documentation, Brandon Pierce, 17, Brazil, is the alleged suspect in the armed robbery of the Brazil Taco Bell in May. Pierce, who allegedly displayed a handgun, confronted an employee outside the building, located at 2170 East National Ave., forcing them back inside where he took an undisclosed amount of cash and fled on foot.

On May 19, Pierce was charged as an adult when the court issued an arrest warrant for him on charges of a B felony armed robbery charge, D felony theft charge and a class A misdemeanor criminal trespass. Later that same day, Pierce turned himself in at the Clay County Justice Center.

Two days later, Pierce appeared for formal arraignment on the charges in Clay Circuit Court.

On Oct. 27, Pierce appeared with his attorney James Organ before Trout to enter a preliminary guilty plea as part of negotiated plea agreement with the prosecutor's office.

Pierce agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of C felony robbery with all remaining counts to be dropped by the state. He would be sentenced with 5 years at the IDOC, with all suspended with the exception of 2 years to be served with good time credit (if earned) and credit for time previously served.

Upon release he would be put on probation for 3 years where he would obey all laws and pay court and court appointed program fees, make restitution but make no contact with the victims and fully cooperate with the prosecution and testify truthfully in further court proceedings. He also agreed to be subject to random drug screenings, waive constitutional rights for searches of his person, residence or vehicle and provide a DNA sample to authorities.

On Nov. 12, Trout rejected the agreement. Pierce was granted time with his counsel to decide if he would make a motion to withdraw the previous guilty plea and continue with court proceedings.

If convicted of the original formal charges, Pierce could face a maximum of 6-20 years of imprisonment for the B felony charge, 1/2-3 years on the D felony, up to 1 year for the misdemeanor charge and a fine of $10,000 for per felony charge.

Still incarcerated, Pierce is also expected to appear before Trout per the court schedule Wednesday.


Comments
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WTG Judge Trout!!! I for one as a tax paying citizen am sick and tired of seeing our officers work their butts off to arrest and charge these people, only to have our courts come up with a plea agreement that puts them back on the streets without them having to serve what they should for the crimes they committed.

I would be more than happy to pay more for my county taxes if it meant that the Prosecutors office would take more of these charges to trial instead of making plea deals with every criminal in the town. How are we going to reduce crime if we just smack them one the wrist and send them back on the street? What kind of message is that sending to our children?

Again! Thank you Judge Trout for being a voice for the people, and making sure these criminals serve time for their crimes!

-- Posted by olmedic on Wed, Nov 19, 2008, at 12:20 AM

Wow way to go Judge Trout; you're doing the right thing.

-- Posted by Pro Se on Wed, Nov 19, 2008, at 7:58 AM

Well my OPINION is that in the first case i am glad he didnt accept his plea deal he is a habitual offender and he obviously knows better and don't care but in the second case with the 17 year old kid i think he doesnt need to serve near as much time as the hardened criminal......i do AGREE he needs to be punished for his crime and he needs to learn his lesson but there have been plenty of cases where a person that age learns from his crime and doesnt need to be overly punished. If that was your child would you still want him in prision the max sentance allowed or 6-20 years plus the other time for other charges.Surely there is a way to teach and punish this boy without putting him at risk for being a higher danger to society when he gets out of prison. Prision dont rehabiltate children or young adults it teaches them to be better at their criminal activity. BTW to all the people that disagree with my opinion ....thats fine but everywhere has the right to give their opinion.

-- Posted by mom of3 on Wed, Nov 19, 2008, at 8:02 AM

To Momof3: I respect your opinion and your right to give it. I however, disagree with you. If the 17 year old had been charged with a different crime, then I might agree with you. This 17 year old took a gun and put it in someones face and robbed them at gun point. That is no small crime, and if he gets a slap on the wrist then that tells the other young adults in our community, that 'hey, I wont get in too bad of trouble'. You asked about our children, and would we want them punished that severely? The answer is Yes. I have a sixteen year old, if she ever committed this type of violent act (that can easily lead to the death of a person if one thing goes wrong), then I would want her to pay for that crime like any other criminal would. She is more than old enough to understand the crime and the consequences of her actions.

I do understand your view point, and respect your opinion... but at some point we have to start giving all criminals (not just select criminals) the full punishment for their actions.

-- Posted by olmedic on Wed, Nov 19, 2008, at 1:50 PM

Well, I feel the need to make a comment on here about the 17 yr old. Thank god that he still has a conscience(turned himself in the next day,not because of any warrants,because he knew he was wrong & wanted to admit to his quilt.not like the other 3 boys invloved in this crime who still are yet to be punished.And to comment about putting a gun in someones face.You dont have your story straight.Maybe its time the BPD gave the marksman(non-co2)BB gun back to its rightful owner not B.P.s (what happened to conspirecy laws?)Thought it was the same punishment as doing the crime.I guess B.P. will be the only kid to do time for this crime

It saddens me to see the times post this boys (he is still just a boy) picture next to the bank(s) robber.

Guess shes just doing her job.It would be nice to see a positive article about his full cooperation with the law. Just an opinion!!!

-- Posted by neverstoploving on Wed, Nov 19, 2008, at 8:01 PM

U do the crime, you do the time....doesn't matter how hardened of a criminal you are. That's just my opinion for what's it's worth. They both knew better....

-- Posted by jessdixon on Thu, Nov 20, 2008, at 12:18 PM


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