VALPARAISO — A former Porter County police officer, who is charged with injuring his infant son and leaving the boy disabled and with a much shorter life expectancy, is seeking to move his case out of Porter County.
Curtis Jones is unable to receive a fair trial in Porter County as a result of prejudicial news coverage of the case and the disclosure of inadmissible evidence, according to the motion for change of venue filed by his defense attorneys Nicholas Barnes and John Vouga.
The attorneys say the case has been the subject of at least 27 news articles in The Times of Northwest Indiana, including an interview with the child's mother and the inadmissible evidence.
"These articles cumulatively create a mindset within potential jury's minds of guilt of the Defendant," the motion says. "Individually, the editorial piece and accompanying video is written from the perspective of the Mother of the alleged Victim and is slanted to invoke sympathy of Mother and the alleged victim."
"Additionally, the most recent article containing inadmissible evidence creates a source for potential jurors to gain access to information they will not be able to forget, information that would lead jurors to a finding of guilt," the attorneys say.
Jones, 51, faces felony counts of battery and two counts of neglect of a dependent in the alleged July 24, 2016, incident.
A doctor at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago said the alleged victim suffered "the worst brain injury I have ever seen," according to court documents. The doctors determined the injuries were consistent with being shaken and must have occurred during the time he was in the care of Jones when his former wife and the boy's mother was at her overnight nursing job.
The defense team argues further that there have been multiple Facebook posts by the child's mother related to the case, as well as a support group for the alleged victim and online petitions against Jones.
"Additionally, the alleged Victim has been used as the poster child for a Shaken Baby Syndrome website despite the Defendant never being convicted of this crime," the defense says.
All this came despite a gag ordered issued by the court against the mother, Jones said.
The mother was also interviewed about the case on Chicago television, which was seen by countless potential jurors, the defense says.
"During said interview, it is stated that Mother of the Alleged victim posted the recording of the 911 call online and said call had been viewed over 20,000 times," the motion says.
"All the above results in an impossibility of Defendant receiving a fair trial in Porter County, Indiana," the defense argues.
If the court is unwilling to move the case out of Porter County, the defense asks that a jury be chosen from outside the county and "all inappropriate articles/information from local newspapers and news agencies to be removed or redacted."
Hearings in the case are set for Friday and Monday before Porter Superior Court Judge Mike Fish.
A 10-day trial is scheduled to start Jan. 4, which which will be 5 1/2 years from the date of the alleged offense.
Pleas of not guilty were entered on Jones' behalf to amended versions of the charges and the judge told him he faces faces three to 16 years behind bars on each count.
Jones left the Porter County Sheriff's Department in October 2005.