WARSAW — An Etna Green man will serve time in prison unless he is accepted into the county work-release program in the next three weeks.
Earl Dean Shepherd, 49, 8810 W. Old Road 30, Etna Green, pleaded guilty in Kosciusko County Circuit Court Monday, June 14, to dealing in methamphetamine, a level 5 felony; possession of methamphetamine, a level 6 felony; and battery, a class B misdemeanor.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, on Feb. 11, 2020, Warsaw police were dispatched to Little Caesar’s parking lot for a welfare check after receiving a phone call about a man, woman and infant inside a silver Ford Taurus. The caller said the woman, who was the driver, appeared to be under the influence of drugs.
Police conducted a BMV inquiry of the license plate which returned the name of two individuals involved in a situation with an active protective order and an active arrest warrant.
The vehicle pulled out of the parking lot and drove east on Market Street, then turned in to the Dollar General parking lot.
Shepherd was allegedly rummaging through the vehicle and eventually removed an infant car seat containing a child from the back seat.
Shepherd and the woman went inside Dollar General with the infant. Shepherd later left the store alone, moved the Ford Taurus to a different location in the parking lot, and appeared to be heading back into the store when police made contact with him.
Police told Shepherd they needed to speak with the woman. Shepherd agreed to enter the store and ask the woman to come outside.
The woman was later identified as Shanelle Dianae Byrer, 27, 8280 E US 30, Pierceton (Shepherd and Byrer are not the two individuals involved in a protective order mentioned above).
A BMV check of Byrer determined that she has a suspended driver’s license. Police also found that Shepherd had been arrested on Feb. 2 for possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.
A search of the car was performed after a K-9 officer made a positive alert for the presence of a narcotic substance. Officers found a backpack in the driver-side rear passenger compartment containing a small black bag that held three syringes that field-tested positive for methamphetamine, men’s clothing and a prescription bottle.
Shepherd agreed to let the police search him. Police found $1,000 in one hundred dollar bills in Shepherd’s pocket.
Child Protective Services arrived to provide assistance.
Shepherd removed the child from the car seat, and police found a capped hypodermic needle, a digital scale and a bag containing a large quantity of methamphetamine under the padding of the infant car seat.
“I think Earl realizes that the company he was keeping back in 2020 could have been better,” Shepherd’s attorney, John Barrett, said in court Monday.
For the charge of dealing methamphetamine, Judge Michael Reed sentenced Shepherd to three years at the Indiana Department of Corrections. He was given 134 days of jail time credit.
Reed sentenced Shepherd to one year at the Kosciusko County Jail for the possession of methamphetamine charge and 180 days in the county jail for the battery charge. He was given 58 days of jail time credit. The sentences were ordered to be served consecutively.
Reed suspended the county jail sentences, ordering that those be served on formal probation. Shepherd has until July 2 to pursue placement in the county work-release program. If he is accepted into that program, the prison sentence will be suspended and he will serve that time in work release.
If Shepherd is not successful in obtaining work release placement, Judge Reed said he will consider a sentence modification at some point if Shepherd successfully completes that Recovery while Incarcerated program and remains drug-free and conduct-clear while in prison.
An additional case was dismissed, pursuant to the plea agreement.