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Work release denied to man in fatal Portage hit-and-run crash
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Work release denied to man in fatal Portage hit-and-run crash

VALPARAISO — A judge has rejected a request to modify the sentence for a Gary man who was sentenced in 2019 to four years behind bars for a fatal hit-and-run crash the year before in Portage.

Simmie Fluker, 43, sent a handwritten letter to Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary DeBoer asking her to place him in work release "so I can work my way back into society."

More than 12,000 Hoosiers have died from COVID-19 since March 2020. There are real names, faces and human stories behind that staggering number. This Sunday, The Times partners with 11 Indiana news agencies to share the stories of dozens of “Hoosiers We’ve Lost” in a special print section and online presentation. Watch for it Sunday.

Fluker said he was working as a program coordinator for the city of Gary and doing youth workshops.

"I'm only asking this court to consider this placement so I can work and save money for a home and to help take care of my kids," he said. "And to get back to being a positive member of society."

Porter County Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ryan opposed the request, pointing out that at the time of sentencing, Fluker had 13 arrests, which resulted in two prior felony and six misdemeanor convictions. He also had been out on bond from Porter County when he was charged with a new felony case in Lake County.

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Fluker had been on probation in Lake County when he committed three other cases, she said.

"The defendant in his letter states that he has learned his lesson and is now ready to modify his behavior," Ryan wrote. "The defendant's record supports the exact opposite conclusion."

Fluker pleaded guilty to felony counts of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and driving while suspended resulting in the Feb. 12, 2018, death of 18-year-old Joseph Bonner, of Portage.

Bonner was struck while walking north on Hamstrom Road from the Speedway gas station on Central Avenue to his residence, police said.

Fluker's 2007 Yukon Denali was located three days later by police at a body shop in Gary, according to court records. Police took custody of the vehicle, and the following day, Fluker showed up at the Portage Police Department with his attorney and provided a statement.

More than 12,000 Hoosiers have died from COVID-19 since March 2020. There are real names, faces and human stories behind that staggering number. This Sunday, The Times partners with 11 Indiana news agencies to share the stories of dozens of “Hoosiers We’ve Lost” in a special print section and online presentation. Watch for it Sunday.

While awaiting the sentencing, Fluker was arrested in Gary on felony counts of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and carrying a handgun without a license, according to court records.

Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Porter County Jail

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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