Judge mulls ongoing battle for information on death of Lake Central teen

2013-01-23T19:30:00Z 2013-01-24T11:33:03Z Judge mulls ongoing battle for information on death of Lake Central teenSusan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com, (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com
January 23, 2013 7:30 pm  • 

HAMMOND | Lake Superior Court Judge William Davis took under advisement Wednesday a flurry of legal motions surrounding the sudden death last August of a Lake Central teen on school property.

Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey twice ruled the death of 17-year-old Levi Evans Jr. to be from natural causes from a rare heart disorder.

Yet court documents filed by attorneys for the town of St. John on behalf of its Police Department indicate the town doesn't consider the case closed.

The boy had been found dead on Lake Central property near a NIPSCO substation with no apparent sign of trauma or foul play.

With the cause of death still under investigation by the coroner's office, attorneys for the boy's father, Levi Evans Sr., filed a subpoena Aug. 27 on St. John police seeking documents related to the investigation.

Yet town attorneys David Austgen and Joseph Svetanoff filed a motion Dec. 28 asking the court to impose a protective order against the release of the documents sought and also to quash the subpoena requests.

Another motion asked the court to set a hearing date and also perform in camera inspection of the documents. 

The town's attorneys are asking the court to approve the withholding of the police records based on the records being confidential, investigatory and potentially harmful to the town if disclosed.

The town's attorneys did not appear at a hearing on the matter Davis had set for Wednesday, but attorney Andrew Crosmer, of Dyer, representing the boy's father, did.

Crosmer argued officials already had shared a videotape of the boy approaching the substation and falling with The Times while denying it to the boy's family.

"These are the parents of a 17-year-old boy found dead," Crosmer told the judge.

"Is there an investigation?" he asked, questioning the town's legal stance.

Crosmer also cited issues with a pending motion by attorney Robert Hess, of St. John, on behalf the Lake County coroner's office.

Frey also had received a subpoena for certain records but informed Crosmer on Nov. 29 a "court order" would be needed or at minimum a signed and notarized request by the next of kin.

Hess asks the court to dismiss a petition by Crosmer to compel the coroner's office to comply with the subpoena and also order Evans to pay attorney fees incurred by the coroner's office.

Davis said it appeared the father wanted someone to demonstrate there had been a "good faith" investigation.

Davis said Austgen and Hess had raised "Sunshine," or public access, rules though there were other laws at issue.

Davis is expected rule on the matter in less than 30 days.

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About St. John

Town Hall

10955 W. 93rd Avenue St. John, IN 46373
219.558.2078 (Fax)

Police Department

11033 W. 93rd Avenue St. John, IN 46373
Fax: 219.558.2166

Fire Department

11033 W. 93rd Avenue St. John, IN 46373
Fax: 219.558.2080

Parks and Recreation

9350 Hack St., Bldg 2 St. John, IN 46373
219.558.2032 (Fax)

Lake Central School Corporation

Kay Trapp Administration Center
8260 Wicker Avenue
St. John, Indiana 46373
Phone: 219.365.8507

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