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January 13, 2015 • Headlines

It was bitter cold outside on Thursday in Versailles resulting in county school delays. The temperature creeped up over the weekend, but sleet and freezing rain caused school delays and closures. MARY MATTINGLY PHOTO
Delaware Fire Department had their annual Christmas dinner and invited past members. They were also the founding members of the department. To thank them for their hard work and dedication, they were presented with a certificate of appreciation. For a complete list of names, pick up the Osgood Journal at your local newsstand. SUBMITTED PHOTO
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Local fire departments respond to house fires

Local fire departments have been busy since the start of the year. On Saturday, neighbors noticed smoke from a nearby house in Versailles. Frank Eaton and Josh Ebinger were outside Eaton’s yard Saturday afternoon when they saw smoke from neighbor Candace McFann’s residence at 200 N. High Street. They called 911 to report the fire.

Versailles House Fire


Versailles firefighters worked a residential fire Saturday afternoon. There was heavy smoke damage.

Upon arrival at 1:49 p.m., the Versailles Fire Department found a single story residence filled with heavy, dense smoke. Versailles firefighters entered the first floor with a fire hose to conduct a primary search. According to Fire Chief Ben Sieverding, the primary search is a tactic to confirm that no occupants are in a structure, and it was confirmed no one was home.

Osgood firefighters, who were assisting Versailles, advanced a fire hose into the basement of the structure for fire attack. The fire damage was contained to the basement area of the home with heavy smoke damage throughout the structure. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

The Osgood VFD was dispatched to the scene to assist the Versailles Fire Department utilizing the new automatic mutual aide system put in place by the Ripley County Fire Chiefs Association. This new system, now being utilized by fire departments in Ripley County, has the next closest department dispatched for assistance at all confirmed working structure fires. This allows the mutual aid departments to arrive on scene sooner to assist the fire department of jurisdiction. The Versailles and Osgood fire departments have responded three times the last couple of months with this new system, both in Versailles and Osgood.

Sieverding stated, “The new automatic mutual aide system has worked very well. The Osgood and Versailles fire departments have always worked very closely together. This just gets the assistance to the scene a few minutes sooner which at times can make a world of difference in saving lives and property.”

Sunman fire

A Sunman homeowner on 1250 North, which is just north of Sunman, woke up to the smell of smoke Wednesday morning, Jan. 7. He and his wife checked and removed the ceiling tiles by the gas burning fireplace, and saw the flames. Sunman Fire Chief Bill Craig said the fire department was toned at 5:19 a.m. and upon investigation, discovered the floor joists were charred by the fireplace, with the fire working its way into the house.

“We considered it minimal damage, at least for what it could have been,” he said. Smoke detectors did not go off, but he advised property owners to make sure there is an operable one in each room or hallway. “Otherwise, it could be awhile before the smoke or fire reached the room,” to set off the alarm, he said.

Because it was initially reported as smoke in a house, the mutual aide department system was not dispatched until Sunman arrived and determined it was a structure fire. Morris Fire Department then assisted. Craig reminded people it’s a good idea for a service technician to check heating sources, particularly those secondary ones. Flues and liners often need to be cleared. The flue contacts could be wood and over time dry out and eventually combust. Craig said the fire department has made five runs since the start of the year. “It’s the season,” he added. They also assisted Manchester Fire Department Sunday morning with a tanker and manpower for a fully engulfed garage fire. Although the vinyl had started to melt, they were able to save the house. Sunman fire department has had a mutual aide system with Dearborn County for several years, according to Craig.

Read page 7 of the Osgood Journal for advice from the state fire marshal about space heaters and alternative heating sources.

2013 Milan murder investigation

Court agrees to suppress murder case statements

Mary Mattingly

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the Ripley County Circuit Court opinion to suppress statements from the woman facing murder charges of a Milan woman Dec 30, 2012.

On March 26, Allison Moore filed a motion to suppress her statement made to police during the initial investigation. She was charged with murder of Nancy Hershman on Jan. 7, 2013, along with two burglary felony charges, and is facing life without parole. On March 31, following a hearing, Judge Carl Taul of the Ripley Circuit Court granted the motion. The state appealed, and the case proceeded to the Indiana Court of Appeals for jurisdiction.

According to the opinion by Judge Cale Bradford, one of the three judges who sat on the appellate panel, the state contends that the trial court erroneously granted Moore’s motion to suppress because she waived her right to silence by reinitiating the conversation with police. However, Moore claims police continued to question her and the police interference led to her giving a statement without her rights being given to her again.

The hearing was Dec. 9, and held publicly at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis. The appeals court will often conduct such hearings at various public entities in part so students and the public get an opportunity to learn about law and court process. Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel attended, but the state Attorney General’s office presented. Mark Jones was appointed as Moore’s attorney, but attorney Leanna Weismann of Lawrenceburg presented the case to the appellate court. Moore’s statement is off limits at this point, Weissmann told Ripley Publishing. She also explained there are two options at this point for the Attorney General’s office. A petition for a rehearing could be filed or the office could file a petition to transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court. The state has 30 days to file, from the date the decision was filed, which was Dec. 29. In the meantime, Weissmann says they wait. “It’s kind of in limbo. If the state doesn’t file by Jan. 29, the court of appeals will certify their opinion and the jurisdiction switches back to the county,” she said.

According to testimony, Moore was questioned by Indiana detectives about the four children she was babysitting. She said she didn’t want to talk further, but questioning continued. The state argues the questions were not related to the criminal investigation, and Moore reinitiated the interrogation; however, she contends the police coerced her into making incriminating statements by their harassing questioning involving the children she was babysitting.

When the appeals process is complete, the case will return to Ripley County Circuit Court. However, since Ryan King is now the county circuit court judge, having been elected in November, he may ask to be removed from the case. He was chief deputy prosecutor and involved in the case at the time. A new trial date has not been set, and will depend on the Attorney General’s opinion on petitioning for the rehearing or a transfer. Weissmann said the typical route is to take it to the Indiana Supreme Court and argue the court of appeals has misinterpreted the Indiana law. “That would be my anticipation but we won’t be sure until Jan. 29.”

Hertel commented, “The prosecutor’s office is disappointed with the Court of Appeals decision; however, we respect and accept their ruling and will go forward in an appropriate manner based on that decision.” If the suppression of statements remains upheld, Hertel said their trial strategy would be altered. Other evidence, testimony or witnesses, but no talk of confession or any other statements during the investigation in question, would be brought forth.

Allison Moore, 23, remains in the Ripley County Jail. The other two people charged in the crime, teens Daniel Hodge and Sean Nichols, were sentenced last year. Hodge was sentenced to 50 years, 13 years suspended, and Nichols, 50 years, 20 years suspended. The sentences also included cooperation with the prosecution with the Moore case.

Pick up this week's edition of the Osgood Journal for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

• First meeting of the year for Osgood council (front page)
• Local survey indicates drug problem in county (front page)
• How a bill becomes law, by State Representative Randy Frye (page 4)

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