KOSCIUSKO COUNTY — A telephonic status conference on charges against Kosciusko County Sheriff C. Aaron Rovenstine was held Wednesday morning, Jan. 4, in the chambers of Elkhart Superior Court Judge Evan S. Roberts. This was also a final pre-trial conference.
The status conference, scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. and last one hour, was called by Roberts Dec. 29 to hear arguments on a request for specific discovery by Rovenstine’s defense counsel. No ruling has been made on the request.
James H. Voyles and Jennifer M. Lukemeyer, counsels for Rovenstine, filed a notice to the court and a request for specific discovery. In the court documents it notifies the court of the status of the grand jury testimony and requested the state be compelled to specifically designate and produce certain recordings played during the grand jury proceedings.
Documents show the defense has received all the testimony from the February 2016 empaneling of the grand jury. However there were certain audio recordings played for the grand jury and in conjunction with the witnesses’ testimonies. The Kosciusko County court reporter turned over the physical exhibits used, but the audio recordings were not produced. “Apparently the audio recordings played for the grand jury were not introduced as actual exhibits,” court documents state.
The notice states the defense counsel reached out to the contract court reporter, Susan Snyder, to request transcripts of the audio recordings. Snyder indicated she could not do so because of the poor quality of the secondary recordings and that there were “dozens” of recordings.
Objecting to the request for specific discovery, Special Prosecuting Attorney E. Nelson Chipman Jr., stated the state provided a complete and thorough production of the information gathered during the course of the investigation. While the court’s order to provide transcripts of the grand jury proceedings was based on local rule, the ordering of the state to “parse through discovery and the grand jury proceedings is not part of the court’s order.
The state argued the defendant will not be deprived of any due process or inadequate preparation as materials are already in the defense counsels possession and have been since the initial hearing March 17. The state further states the defendant is improperly seeking a court order requiring the state to assume the defense attorney’s role.
“The impropriety of defendant’s request is revealed by the fact that defendant cites to no rule or statute as a basis for ordering the state to stop preparing for trial and identify recordings provided to the defense more than nine months ago.”
One motion was granted prior to Roberts setting the status conference: a motion for an extension of time to submit a defense witness and exhibit list. That extension was given until Monday, Jan. 2.