ELKHART — A final status conference and a plea bargain deadline along with new trial dates have been set in the case against Kevin Bronson and Mark Soto. A status conference was held today Friday, March 10, in the Elkhart Superior 1 courtroom.

The trial has been set for Aug. 1-4 and continuing Aug. 7-11. The final status conference and pre-trial and a plea bargain deadline is 1 p.m. June 30 in the Elkhart Superior 1 Courtroom. All parties involved are required to attend.

Kevin-Lee-BronsonBonson is charged with three counts of corrupt business influence and seven counts of intimidation. Soto is charged with three count of corrupt business influence and three counts of intimidation.
 

 

 

Tami Napier, special prosecutor, and Matt Sarber, deputy prosecutor, along with Soto’s counsel Scott Lennox appeared for the status conference via telephone. Clifford Williams, Elkhart County Public Defender appeared in person with his client Kevin Bronson.

Napier stated she wanted the Bonson/Soto trial reset after C. Aaron Rovenstine’s trial scheduled for April. Roberts noted he was thinking the end of July, first part of August. He said two weeks would be set aside. He noted a number of hearings scheduled July 25 and Aug. 1, he would need to “bring someone in to back fill for me.” Napier noted Aug. 1 would be suitable for her. The other two counselors were acceptable to the dates.

Roberts voiced a concern with the dates possibly coinciding with the start of school in Elkhart, Kosciusko and Marshall counties. “There have already been issues come up with spring break,” he noted referencing Rovenstine’s trial. He anticipates there will be potential jurors who have school age children and may want to take their children to school.

Roberts is projecting to call 60 people as potential jurors the first two days. “I expect to lose 15-20 people,” he stated.

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Napier requested the court also set a date for final plea agreement. “I’m hopeful that we will resolve the cases short of the trial,” Napier stated noting she was not so hopeful with the Rovenstine case. “I believe and am comfortable we will reach an agreement (with Soto and Bronson) or be able to reach an agreement,” she added. “A plea deadline would be very helpful.” She suggested the deadline be 30 days prior to the start of the trial to give time to send out subpoenas if necessary. Napier said, “The State of Indiana is prepared to try Mr. Soto and Mr. Bronson in the event that no plea agreement can be reached.”
“As long as we do it in Elkhart,” said Roberts noting he and his staff lose three-fourths of a day when they travel for the case. He then set June 30 as the deadline.

Williams stated he is “forever optimistic” and tentatively could say that date was appropriate and acceptable. He did note, however, he will be traveling to Arlington National Cemetery to bury his father-in-law near that time and may have to extended his stay to tend to matters. “I remain flexible,” he said, noting there are “many things I want to do before” before he solidifies a plea agreement.” He also indicated anything short of that time would “go against some of the things I have planned.”

Prior to concluding the conference Williams wished to address the logistics of Bronson’s prep time to appear in court. Bronson interjected stated “they stuck me in a closet.” Bronson also spoke up stating he was taken out of his block and taken to the front and placed in solitary confinement. It was noted he was placed there at 5 a.m. and they did not come to get him for transport until shortly before the noon hearing. Williams noted there are some physical issues of concern. Roberts directed Williams to address the issue with the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department.http://www.inkfreenews.com/2017/03/10/new-trial-date-set-for-bronson-soto/

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