COLUMBIA CITY — Four individuals received sentences ranging from six to 12 years in Whitley County Circuit Court Monday by both judges.
Joshua Reicke, 28, of Columbia City, was convicted in a juried trial of four felonies – one count of dealing methamphetamine, a level 3 felony, and three counts of neglect of a dependent, a level five felony, after selling drugs to a confidential informant in April.
“I would note that Josh has virtually no adult criminal record,” said his attorney Brad Baber. “I also want to note his difficult childhood, and that’s putting it mildly.”
Baber pushed for Reicke’s sentence, an agreed upon eight years, to be served in the jail so that he could utilize the formative programs available – many of which he has become involved with while awaiting trial.
“you can walk by 100 houses and not rob 99, but if you rob one you’re still a burglar. Mr. Riecke is a dealer,” Prosecutor DJ Sigler said in reference to his criminal record.
When given an opportunity to speak, Riecke took responsibility for his actions.
“There’s no excuse for violating society,” he said. “There’s no excuse for not protecting my children from this. Being a parent is the most important job on this earth, and I failed.”
Judge Matthew Rentschler sentenced him to eight years, four of which will be served and four on probation. With the jail at capacity, Reicke will serve his sentence at the Indiana Department of Corrections.
Eric Bruner, 38, of Columbia City, also received a sentence from Rentschler on charges of dealing methamphetamine. With a string of drug-related cases dating back to 1998, Sigler pushed for a longer sentence.
“Eight years is a long time for someone who’s not hurt anyone,” attorney Anthony Churchward said. “None of his prior convictions caused harm to anyone but himself.”
Sigler explained that Bruner’s history demonstrates that shorter sentences are not working.
Rentschler ultimately sentenced Bruner to 12 years, eight served and four on probation, to be executed at the Department of Corrections.
Angela Tarlton, 41, of Pierceton, received a sentence from Judge James Heuer on charges of dealing in methamphetamine. In accordance with the plea agreement, Tarlton will serve a 10-year sentence and two years on probation.
A debate ensued about where the sentence would be executed. Her attorney, Chad Miner, wanted her to serve it at the jail because, “her support network is in this area.” With the jail at capacity, Tarlton will begin at the Department of Corrections, but may be transferred once room becomes available.
Kerry Rentschler, 46, of Fort Wayne, was also sentenced by Heuer to six years, with four to be served at the Whitley County Jail with the option of work release and two on probation. Rentschler was convicted of burglary and theft.
In other Circuit Court news:
• Tyler Neal, 24, of Huntington, and Laura Koze, 22, of Ligonier, appeared for initial hearings on methamphetamine-related charges after state police found 28 grams of methamphetamine in their vehicle in a traffic stop last week. Both face a maximum of 30 years for level 2 felony dealing methamphetamine. Their next hearing is Nov. 13.
• Frank Bailey III, 42, of North Webster, also appeared for an initial hearing on charges of burglary and theft for an alleged break-in in November 2016. With burglary as a level 5 felony, Bailey could face a sentence of between one to six years. His first pre-trial conference is Nov. 13.
• Christopher Davidsen, 44, of Columbia City, pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, a level 5 felony. In accordance with the plea agreement, Davidsen will face a six-year sentence, with three executed and three suspended. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13.
• Danny Lakes Jr. will go to trial Jan. 10 for charges of operating while intoxicated with a controlled substance, maintaining a common nuisance, carrying a handgun without a permit, possession of marijuana, dealing cocaine, possession of a narcotic drug and possession of a controlled substance. With a level 2 felony, Lakes could face as many as 30 years in prison.