Marshall County Prosecutor Nelson Chipman announced Thursday that he filed a formal request in front of Judge Robert O. Bowen to convene a Grand Jury to review the evidence and circumstances surrounding three different events. Judge Bowen granted the request and has scheduled July 13, 14, and 15 as the dates the Grand Jury shall meet in Marshall Superior Court 1.
The events to be reviewed include the evidence and circumstances surrounding the cause of the fire that resulted in the destruction of the building previously located at 415 Lakeshore Drive in Culver. The fire occurred on October 9, 2019.
The second matter to be reviewed is the evidence and circumstances surrounding the collision of a semi-tractor trailer with a Ford Focus at the intersection of US 6 and King Road that resulted in the death of Melia Byrer, age 33, of Bremen. The semi was driven by Delbert Polenske, age 57, of Bancroft, Nebraska. The collision occurred on February 15, 2021.
Lastly, the Grand Jury will be called upon to review the evidence and circumstances surrounding the injuries suffered by James Michael Shuck, age 34, a pedestrian along Michigan Road north of Argos, on March 13, 2021. Mr. Shuck later died of his injuries on or about March 17. Mr. Shuck was from Rochester, IN. The vehicle identified as involved in the collision with Mr. Shuck was allegedly driven by Brittany Nichole Burch Jensen, age 24, of Walkerton.
Chipman noted the importance of grand jury proceedings: “Indiana generally leaves it up to the elected prosecuting attorney to decide when, if ever, to ask a court to empanel a grand jury. Some prosecutors never do it. Some states and the federal system require all serious incidents to be reviewed first by a grand jury. As for me, I find invaluable the opportunity to review a case with six citizens representing a cross section of our community. It’s amazing the different perspectives you learn from fellow citizens objectively viewing the evidence.”
Readers are reminded that should criminal charges result from the work of the Grand Jury, an indictment is a mere allegation and that the person so charged is presumed innocent of the allegations unless or until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in subsequent proceedings in a court of law. “In other words,” Chipman explained, “a grand jury is not the venue in which guilt or innocence is determined, just whether or not the panel recommends an indictment or no indictment.”