$50,000 bonds set for 2 men in armed robbery
Bond was set at $50,000 - payable only in cash - for two men accused of robbing a couple at gunpoint outside Hanover last week. Circuit Court Judge Darrell Auxier, in setting the bonds Wednesday, said John Thomas Clark, 28, of Madison and Ryan Scott Eckiss, 29, of Lafayette, each is “a danger to the community.” Both are charged with felony robbery, Level 3; felony aiding robbery, Level 3; and resisting law enforcement, Class A misdemeanor. Auxier scheduled their separate trials for 9 a.m. Jan. 5, 2019. Clark and Eckiss had initial hearings Wednesday before Auxier. Level 3 felony robbery and Level 3 felony aiding robbery are punishable upon conviction by three to 16 years in prison, with the advisory sentence of nine years, and a maximum fine of $10,000. The Class A misdemeanor of resisting law enforcement is punishable upon conviction by a year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. Advisory sentences are guidelines set out in Indiana’s sentencing law. Eckiss’ preliminary felony charges when he was arrested were Level 2 but were lowered to the less severe Level 3 before his court appearance. Both men have pleaded not guilty. Auxier appointed Madison attorney Jeannie Stotts to represent Clark and Madison attorney Devon Sharpe to represent Eckiss. A third suspect, Steven W. O’Neal, 28, was arrested in Oldham County, Kentucky, and is being held there to face unrelated charges in Kentucky. The crimes Clark and Eckiss are charged with committing stem from events the night of Thursday, Oct. 11. A man and his wife told law enforcement officers that they were visiting a friend on State Road 56. They said they had parked their car nearby on Amber Waves Boulevard, according to the probable cause affidavit. According to county property records, the owners of the house they were visiting own the adjoining lots between their house and Amber Waves Boulevard. The couple told law enforcement officers that a short time later, when they were walking through a field to return to their car, they saw three men standing near the car and the man asked what they were doing, according to the affidavit. The man told police he was knocked down, beaten and kicked by the three men, one of whom pointed a gun at him, according to the affidavit. He received cuts and scrapes, according to the charging document that Auxier read aloud in court. The man’s wallet, two cell phones and two backpacks were taken from their car, according to the affidavit. The three men got into a gold Toyota 4Runner and drove west on State Road 56, the couple told police. The couple said they got into their green Jeep Cherokee and drove to Red Pepper restaurant in downtown Madison, where a friend loaned them a phone to call 911 at about 11:45 p.m., according to the affidavit. Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies and Madison city police worked together on the investigation and the search for the three men. Sheriff’s Detective Yancy Denning submitted the probable-cause affidavit in Eckiss’ case and sheriff’s Deputy Brian Muldoon submitted the affidavit in Clark’s case. A probable-cause affidavit is a sworn statement by a law enforcement officer in which the facts as known are related. The search for the three men unfolded at several locations as described in the affidavits. Muldoon wrote that he and Deputy Ben Flint were working their shifts when the 911 call came in, and Denning was nearby. “We searched the junction of State Road (SR) 56 and SR 62, then continued our search west of 56 toward Hanover,” Muldoon wrote. “Detective Denning and I searched the Hanover area and several possible known locations that John (Clark) had previously visited, but could not locate him. “MPD Patrolman (Ptl) Josh Nolan met with the victims at Red Pepper,” Muldoon wrote. “Dispatch was able to advise us that John’s mother, Wanda Hale, has a 1999 Toyota 4Runner,” he wrote. Flint contacted Community Corrections to obtain the current location of Clark’s ankle monitor by “pinging” it. “The ping showed he was on Kennedy Drive in Madison,” Muldoon wrote. “Deputy Flint and Ptl Shaun Scudder (MPD) began searching the area. ...He (Nolan) also advised that he showed a photo of John to the victims and they positively identified him as the assailant.” Meanwhile, according to the affidavit, Scudder found Hale’s 4Runner in the parking lot at Windridge apartments with no one around, and Flint continued to track the location of Clark’s ankle monitor. “It was now in the area of Ivy Tech college,” Muldoon wrote. “Detective Denning observed three males behind the Goodwill store near Ivy Tech. As he approached, they ran into the wooded area leading toward the city dump and U.S. 421. “Deputy Flint and Detective Denning, using K9 Meko, began (to) search the wooded area with Ptl. (Wayne) Phillips’ (MPD) assistance. Community Corrections activated the audible alarm on John’s ankle monitor so that deputies could hear it if they located him. “They located the backpack belonging to the victim with K9 Meko’s assistance,” Muldoon wrote. “The ping showed that the ankle monitor was again near 590 Clifty Drive (Ivy Tech College). ...Detective Denning observed a male in the parking lot in front of Dollar Tree and FFO Home furniture. Flint, Denning and Scudder detained and identified the male as John Clark. “I (Muldoon) arrived on scene and maintained custody of John,” Muldoon wrote. “He was covered in burrs and dirt. He had a considerable amount of blood covering his hands and abbrasion (abrasions) to his neck and face as well as some minor cuts in the same areas. “He stated that he was just going for a walk with his old lady down heritage trail and did not understand why he was being arrested for going for a walk,” Muldoon wrote. “He had no shoes on at the time of his arrest, his feet/socks were wet, and he was sweating and breathing heavily. The alarm on his ankle monitor was active.” Madison police officer Dylan Barnes found Eckiss in the Miles Ridge subdivision at 9 a.m. the next day, Friday, Oct. 12, and arrested him. A third suspect, Steven Wayne O’Neal, 28, was arrested after the other two. Jefferson County Sheriff John Wallace announced Tuesday that O’Neal had been arrested on a warrant in Kentucky, where he was being held in the Oldham County Jail. The News of Record page in The Madison Courier on that same day contained an item about O’Neal’s sentencing in Superior Court for auto theft in an unrelated case. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, all suspended to probation except for 97 days already served. Clark was in the Community Transition program at the time of his arrest, according to information Auxier read at the hearing. Law enforcement officers were able to trace him by “pinging” his ankle monitor, according to the affidavit. They knew he had an ankle monitor because the man who said he was beaten and robbed said he saw an ankle bracelet while he was on the ground. Clark asked through the interim attorney from the public defender’s office to be released with supervision until his trial without having to pay a cash bond, but Auxier said the case manager who conducted a pretrial assessment was unable to make a recommendation because there was not enough information to determine whether Clark would commit a crime while free. The interim attorney also asked that Eckiss be released without having to pay a cash bond so he could avoid losing his job building semi-trailers at Wabash General. Eckiss said he works six days a week, 48 hours, and lives with his parents in Lafayette. During questioning earlier in the hearing to determine if Eckiss was qualified to have a court-appointed attorney, Eckiss had testified under oath that he was unemployed. The Jefferson County prosecutor’s office asked why he had stated two different things. Eckiss said he figured he has lost his job and said he cannot afford an attorney. During questioning related to whether he should be released before his trial, Eckiss confirmed that he got out of prison April 2, an early release due to good behavior, for a conviction for criminal confinement. Auxier denied pre-trial release, saying that in addition to being a danger to the community, Eckiss lacks ties to the Madison area and is a flight risk.