ELKHART — Arguments regarding a defense motion to exclude are still pending in the case against Kosciusko County Sheriff C. Aaron Rovenstine.
Attorneys for both sides participated in a telephonic status conference Jan. 4 with Special Judge Evan S. Roberts, Elkhart Superior Court 1. During the telephonic status conference matters pertaining to the defense motion to exclude, filed Jan. 2, and the defense notice to the court and request for specific discovery were heard.
Roberts entered an order Friday, Jan. 6, directing the attorneys to informally discuss a resolution regarding the specific discovery request. Should there be no agreement, the court is to be notified. The defense notified the court it had not received certain audio recordings played for the grand jury and in conjunction with witnesses’ testimonies. The contract court reporter stated she could not transcribe these recordings because of the poor quality of the secondary recordings, which totaled in the “dozens.”
The state argued the court did not order the state to parse through discovery. The grand jury proceedings and materials regarding the case have been in the defense possession since March 17.
Regarding the motion to exclude, the defense has been given seven days to file an amended motion with supporting argument. The state will then have seven days to file its written response. Roberts noted the court undertakes a final status conference with respect to the upcoming jury trial. He also filed a decorum and media procedures order.
The motion to exclude focused on all recorded conversations between David Baker and Warsaw Police Department, recorded conversations between Baker and Bronson while he was in the Kosciusko County Jail and any and all evidence and testimony directly or related to or derived form the conversations. The motion states Baker, listed as a state witness, is a licensed attorney in Ohio and represented Bronson as part of Bronson’s purported movie/book deal. Because Baker performed legal work for Bronson their relationship is cloaked in privilege.
The motion states Warsaw Police detectives contacted Baker as part of their investigation of Bronson and the initial conversation was recorded without Baker’s knowledge. This conversation revolved around Baker’s relationship with Bronson and took place while Baker was in California, which is subject to the two-party consent law and was obtained in violation of that law.
Defense counsel points out in the motion during this conversation and presumably in subsequent conversations, Warsaw Police convinced Baker he was not bound by the attorney-client privilege and WPD engaged Baker to have a recorded conversation with Bronson, without Bronson’s knowledge or permission, while Bronson was incarcerated at the county jail and calling Baker. The defense argues there is an attorney-client relationship and are subject to the protection of the attorney-client privilege with no waiver of this privilege provided during the discovery process.
According to the chronological case summary the state has filed a preliminary list of witnesses and anticipated exhibits and the defense has filed its witness and exhibit list. The state’s witness list includes 58 witnesses including police officers, sheriff’s department employees, family members and private individuals. The state’s exhibit list includes 25 items. These items include wills, recorded conversations, text messages, finance reports, visitor’s logs, investigation reports, photographs and telephone records.
The defense witness list includes 56 individuals, some of whom are the same individuals on the state’s witness list. Several attorneys are included in this list as well as the defendant himself. The 13 exhibits listed as potential admission also include some of the same exhibits as the state with additional exhibits, including jail inspection reports.
The seven-day jury trial is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, in the Kosciusko County Justice Building. The trial is scheduled to continue Feb. 8-10 and resume Feb. 10-15. Jurors will be selected from Kosciusko County.
Rovenstine was charged by a grand jury on three counts of bribery, intimidation, assisting a criminal and five counts of official misconduct. The charges range from C and D felonies as the charges occurred prior to the change in felony charges, to level 5 and level 6 felonies, which occurred after the law change.
Soto And Bronson
A seven-day jury trial for Mark H. Soto and Keven L. Bronson is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. April 11 and continue April 12-13 and resume April 18-21. The trial will be held in the Kosciusko Circuit Court. However, the plea bargain deadline and final status conference is set for 12:30 p.m. March 17 in the courtroom of Elkhart Superior Court 1.
The trial against both men was originally slated to begin Dec. 13, but a continuance was granted in November. But Roberts notified the attorneys of record it will not entertain any additional continuance motions in the case.
Court files show there is a possibility Bronson will be entering a plea agreement around that date.
Soto is charged with three counts of corrupt business influence, C felonies, and three counts of intimidation, D felonies.
Bronson is charged with three counts of corrupt business influence, C felonies and seven counts of intimidation, D felonies.