WARSAW — After almost a year of proceedings, the jury trial of Kosciusko County Sheriff Aaron Rovenstine is set to take place tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 7.
Rovenstine was indicted on three counts of bribery, one count of intimidation, one count of assisting a criminal and five counts of official misconduct in February 2016. Also indicted was Grace College Professor Mark Soto for three counts of corrupt business influence and three counts of intimidation. Kevin Bronson was indicted on three counts of corrupt business influence and seven counts of intimidation.
Rovenstine is accused of taking bribes of $40,000 to allow unmonitored and unrecorded visits between Bronson and Soto during Bronson’s incarceration in the Kosciusko County Jail. Rovenstine is also accused of communicating a threat to a law enforcement officer, Paul Heaton with the Warsaw Police Department, placing him in fear of retaliation in a criminal investigation while Bronson was incarcerated.
The trial will begin tomorrow and will continue for six days in Kosciusko County Circuit Court. Special Judge Evan Roberts of Elkhart Superior Court I will preside over the case. Marshall County Deputy Prosecutors Tammi Napier and Matthew Sarber will represent the State at the trial, Prosecutor Chipman dropped out due to health issues. Rovenstine will be represented by James Voyles, Jennifer Lukemeyer and Chad Miner. The dates scheduled for the trial are Feb. 7-10 and Feb. 14-15.
There has been question as to whether Rovenstine will receive a fair trial in the county. On Nov. 4, a test jury was conducted in order to determine whether a fair and impartial jury comprised of Kosciusko County citizens could be obtained. After the test jury, the court concluded that “a fair and impartial jury composed of Kosciusko County citizens can be found.”
William “Rocky” Goshert, Joseph “Frank” Courtois, Joe Mooney, Mark Soto and Kevin Bronson were all granted immunity to testify at Rovenstines trial. It was argued that these individuals may invoke their privilege against self-incrimination during testimony at the trial.
Rovenstine has been in law enforcement for 30 years, 24 with the sheriff’s department and 11 as sheriff. He was re-elected to an additional four-year term in 2014. Rovenstine is a lifetime Kosciusko County resident, a 1978 graduate of Warsaw Community High School.