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No bond reduction for man accused of raping woman during home invasion

No bond reduction for man accused of raping woman during home invasion


CROWN POINT — A judge refused to reduce bond Wednesday for one of two defendants accused of raping a woman at gunpoint during a home invasion in Hammond in 2018.

Nathaniel J. Asbury, 22, of Hammond, will remain in the Lake County Jail unless his family is able to post a bond of $125,000 surety or $12,500 cash.

Asbury's attorney, Robert Varga, said he was negotiating a possible plea offer with the Lake County prosecutor's office.

Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Nadia Wardrip objected to any reduction in Asbury's bond and submitted two photos to the court, both of which were taken from surveillance video of the alleged crimes.

One photo showed Asbury forcing a woman to perform oral sex on him, while the second photo showed Asbury holding a shotgun to the woman while a co-defendant prepared to rape her, Hammond police Detective Adam Clark said.

Elias Costello, 20, of East Chicago, is accused of conspiring with girlfriend Alexis M. Lietz, 21, and two accomplices, Asbury and Isiah Barboza, 16, to burglarize Lietz's relatives' home July 16, 2018.

Asbury and Barboza raped Lietz's relative at gunpoint while Costello held the woman down, and Asbury forced her to perform oral sex on him, court records allege.

A relative of Lietz called 911 after viewing some of the alleged events in real time on a home surveillance system. 

Lietz, Asbury and Barboza were taken into custody outside the home. Police found Costello hiding underneath blankets in the basement, court records say.

Varga didn't dispute the seriousness of the crimes of which Asbury is accused, but said his client is entitled to a reasonable bond.

Asbury's parents live paycheck to paycheck and have not been able to post his bond since his arrest in July 2018, Varga said. Asbury's father, Stephon Asbury, of Hammond, said he currently has about $1,000 that he could post on behalf of his son.

Wardrip said Asbury has failed to appear multiple times in previous cases and the seriousness of the crimes of which he's now accused make him a danger to the community.

Because of the ongoing plea negotiations, Asbury knows he's facing a significant prison sentence and would be a flight risk if released from jail, Wardrip said.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Samuel Cappas said he had seen video of the alleged crimes during proceedings in a co-defendant's case and found the photos submitted Wednesday to be disturbing.

The judge agreed the amount of prison time Asbury is facing could make him a flight risk. 

Cappas denied any reduction in bond for Asbury.

He granted Varga's motion to vacate a March trial and set a status hearing for April 29. 

Varga said the Lake County public defender's office granted him permission to hire a mitigation expert, who would look at Asbury's history ahead of a possible sentencing hearing. Judges weigh mitigating and aggravating factors when crafting a sentence.

Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail


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