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Accused slasher charged with seven felonies

Accused slasher charged with seven felonies

VALPARAISO: Boy could wind up in prison if case is waived to adult court

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VALPARAISO | James Lewerke was charged Friday with seven felony counts stemming from the Nov. 24 machete attack on several fellow students at Valparaiso High School.

Most of the young victims suffered knife blows to the head or face, according to the charges, which give the first detailed description of the injuries.

It is not yet known what penalties Lewerke, 15, faces if found guilty on the six counts of aggravated battery and single felony count of criminal recklessness. His fate will depend largely on whether the case remains in the juvenile system or is waived to adult court.

Porter County Juvenile Deputy Prosecutor Timothy Haraminac said his office asked that Friday's initial hearing be delayed until Jan. 5 to allow more time to evaluate the evidence before deciding whether to ask for a waiver to adult court.

The evidence, which continues to be compiled, includes statements from students and an upcoming psychological evaluation of Lewerke, Haraminac said.

Lewerke was charged with striking three of his classmates on the left side of their heads with a machete, according to prosecutors. The young victims were identified as Donald Kuschel, Kory Erb and Michele Anderson.

Mark Evans was struck with a machete on the top of his head and Seth Hawk was struck multiple times in the face and head area, according to the charges.

Lewerke also is accused of striking Aaron Merrill on the left wrist with the machete and chasing Gerry Tondini with the knife, causing him to fall and injure his mouth, according to the charges. The lesser count of criminal recklessness applies to Tondini's injuries.

All but one of the students were treated and released from the hospital the day of the attack. Anderson was held overnight for observation.

Merrillville attorney Nick Thiros, who is representing Lewerke along with Indianapolis attorney Jim Voyles, had not seen the charges by Friday afternoon and declined comment.

He said a mental health examination is under way on Lewerke, who remains in custody at the county juvenile detention center.

If Lewerke's case remains in the juvenile system and he either pleads guilty or is found guilty on any of the charges, there is a wide range of possible outcomes, Haraminac said. The options include probation, placement in a mental health facility and boy's school, or a combination of these penalties, he said.

By contrast, Lewerke faces the potential of a lengthy prison sentence if found guilty in adult court.


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