Suspects involved in a January 2009 home invasion/burglary at a rural northwestern Clay County home appeared in court this week concerning plea agreements.
Cousins Joshua L. Orman, 23, and James Levi Orman, 19, along with Christopher Charles Craft, 19, Brazil, were arrested by local law enforcement officers Jan. 15-16, 2009, for their alleged involvement in the violent incident that occurred at 8843 N. County Road 500 West.
The three men allegedly assaulted and held a young couple and their small child at gunpoint while stealing numerous electronic items from their home during the early morning hours of Jan 14.
The Clay County Prosecutor's Office formally charged each of the suspects with six criminal allegations, including:
* Class A felony robbery resulting in serious bodily injury,
* Class A felony conspiracy to commit robbery resulting in serious bodily injury,
* Class A felony burglary resulting in bodily injury,
* Class B felony aggravated battery,
* Class D felony theft, and
* Class D felony residential entry.
The prosecutor's office also confirmed Craft was on probation for a conviction/guilty plea in a separate case in Clay Superior Court at the time of the incident.
All three suspects, with help from their respective attorneys, have entered into previous negotiated plea agreements with the prosecutor's office.
Appearing before Clay Circuit Court Judge Joseph Trout in separate court proceedings Monday, the Ormans pled guilty to two class B felony charges, including burglary and aggravated battery, with the other charges to be dismissed.
Although both plea agreements were found to be factual and accepted, the sentencing hearings were adjourned until Tuesday. At that time, the prosecution and the defense attorneys were able to present evidence and testimony concerning mitigating and aggravating circumstances specific to the cases. This allows the judge to determine the appropriate amount of imprisonment.
The State of Indiana provides a "minimum to maximum range" in sentencing recommendations to help judges determine the amount of time an offender could potentially serve. In both cases, a person convicted of a class B felony could be sentenced to incarceration for 6-20 years.
The judge then has the right to determine if the amount of jail time served will run consecutive (each sentence to run after another without interruption) or concurrent (all sentences served simultaneously or side by side).
Geoffrey Creason, Joshua Orman's attorney, presented testimony by two family members and Joshua in an attempt to show his client maintained employment, had previously served in the military, was supported by his family and incarceration would create a hardship on his family and a dependent child.
Joshua also testified his involvement was not as much as others charged in the matter.
Creason requested the court consider a sentencing recommendation of 10 years.
The prosecution presented testimony by Indiana State Police Detective Sam Stearley.
Stearley testified to case specifics and Joshua's level of involvement. The officer believed Joshua was the "ringmaster" of the plan to "invade a home" and take property from residents who were believed to be "drug dealers."
Making a victim impact statement, the female victim testified about the emotional/physical trauma of the violent incident for herself, her spouse and child. In her opinion, she believed incarceration for a long period of time was not only appropriate, but would also prevent another crime from happening to another person.
The probation officer who prepared the pre-sentence investigation report also testified.
The prosecution requested the maximum of 20 years.
In a detailed three-and-a-half page sentencing order, Trout considered all of the circumstances presented in testimony during Joshua Orman's case, Probable Cause Affidavit and Pre-Sentencing Report and based his decision on the following:
* Being far older and more mature than the others involved in the incident, Joshua used bad judgment when he initiated the plan, drove his personal vehicle with co-defendants to the crime scene and initiated contact with the victims,
* Once it was determined the occupants were not a part of the original plan, there was no hesitation to continue,
* There was anticipation of residents being home because masks and a weapon were brought along during the burglary, and
* Joshua has allegedly shown no remorse for his disregard for human life and safety or offered to cooperate with law enforcement, which could be considered as evidence of bad character.
"Given the totality of the events," Trout sentenced Joshua Orman to 20 years imprisonment to be fully executed for both charges, which will run concurrent. Good time credit will be allowed, if earned while incarcerated at the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC), with further credit allowed for 419 days previously served.
He was also ordered to pay restitution as part of his Adult Probation upon release.
Trout notified Joshua in open court of his rights to appeal, which are normally handled by the State Public Defender's Office. When the court was notified Joshua was intending to appeal, Creason was appointed to continue his representation until the Notice of Appeal or Motion to Correct Errors is filed.
The prosecution did not present any evidence/testimony either, and requested the court consider the maximum sentence of 20 years.
Using the Probable Cause Affidavit and Pre-Sentencing Report, Trout based his sentence on the following:
* James extensive criminal record dating back to minor brushes with the law in Juvenile Court and several failed attempts to successfully complete probation as relevant to his character and inability to conform his conduct to laws of society,
* The extent of harm inflicted on the young victims -- even after it was determined they were not the intended target,
* Likelihood to re-offend and the fact that probation is not an effective tool in rehabilitation, and
* The fact the court found "no real evidence of a real mitigating factor."
Trout sentenced James Orman to 20-year imprisonment at the IDOC on both charges, which will run concurrent. He allowed James credit for 419 days previously served and ordered the defendant to pay restitution as part of the terms of Adult Probation upon release.
Trout also notified James of his rights to appeal. Unclear of James' decision as to whether or not he will appeal, Trout appointed Hear to continue representation until the proper paperwork is filed or not.
After their respective court proceedings, both defendants were remanded back into the custody of the Clay County Sheriff's Department pending processing by IDOC.
After no evidence or testimony was presented in the matter by the prosecution and the defense, they both requested the court accept the terms of the negotiated plea agreement.
Citing the previous convictions and prison sentences issued in the Orman cases, Akers rejected the plea agreement due to the violent nature of the crime, the emotional and physical impact on the victims, Craft's own statements during the investigation and in the court proceedings and past criminal record.
A jury trial was tentatively scheduled for June 28.
According to Indiana Code, statements made by a defendant at a hearing to establish factual basis for guilt as part of a plea agreement that is rejected are not admissible in future court proceedings.
In simpler terms, prior statements set forth in plea hearings cannot be used against a defendant if the plea agreement is denied for whatever reason by a judge. However, evidentiary/admission statements given to police officers during the course of an ongoing investigation can be admissible in a jury trial.
Craft was returned to the custody of the CCSD for transport to the Vigo County Jail.
The Ormans and Craft also face charges of class A felony burglary resulting in bodily injury and class B felony robbery resulting in bodily injury from a second home invasion that also occurred on Jan. 14, 2009, in Vigo County. All three cases are being processed through Vigo County Circuit/Superior Court Division 3 and Judge David R. Bolk.
Initially Christopher Craft's defense attorney Jason Brown was incorrectly identified.