Accused escapee issued warning by judge

2013-03-01T13:02:00Z 2013-03-02T10:34:03Z Accused escapee issued warning by judgeHeather Augustyn Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 01, 2013 1:02 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | As Porter Superior Judge Bill Alexa entered the courtroom Friday morning, April Kuchta, 18, appeared without an attorney and was swiveling in her chair.

Kuchta, of 561 Glenwood Hills in Valparaiso, appeared in court after fleeing from a home detention program Feb. 6 and her subsequent arrest Thursday at the hands of the U.S. Marshal’s Violent Fugitive Task Force.

Kuchta pleaded guilty in 2011 to handcuffing and sexually assaulting a mentally disabled teenage Valparaiso boy, for which she was sentenced in December 2011 to four years behind bars and eight years in the Department of Correction.

She served one year while awaiting sentencing and was required to complete half the sentence or less, but after her release from a Rockville Correctional Facility on Jan. 14 and her registration with the county’s community transition program Feb. 1, Kuchta failed to meet the requirements of her probation.

Porter County prosecuting attorney Tammy Gregg alleged that Kuchta left PACT without permission Feb. 6 after being asked to submit to a drug screening, at which time she left the facility, cut off her GPS monitor, threw it in the trash and absconded.

“We accepted you into the community transition program and not five days later, this,” Alexa said.

Probation Officer Ruth Garriott testified that on a typical violation of the community transition program, the suspended sentence is imposed and the offender is sent back to the Department of Correction and that it is the decision of the court whether a hearing should take place.

Garriott recommended a hearing for Kuchta, to which Alexa agreed, but not without words of warning to Kuchta.

“I understand that you caused some trouble on your way over here this morning, swearing at the jail personnel. Do you understand that I can remove any and all good time credit?” Alexa asked. Kuchta responded yes.

Alexa appointed public defender Robert Harper to represent Kuchta on one charge of escape while knowingly or unlawfully fleeing, a Class C felony; and one charge of escape while intentionally removing a detention device, a Class D felony.

Alexa set Kuchta’s omnibus hearing and pretrial hearing for 9 a.m. May 3 and a jury hearing for 1 p.m. July 1.

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