By SCOTT WEISSER firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — GOSHEN — One of the men accused of a violent home invasion south of New Paris appeared in Elkhart Circuit Court Thursday.
An initial hearing took place for Jeffrey R. Hill, 43, 1211 Wooster Road, Winona Lake. Prosecutors have filed charges against him including robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary and criminal confinement.
Judge Terry Shewmaker set a March 17 trial date and appointed a public defender for Hill, who is incarcerated in the Elkhart County jail on a $2 million bond.
Prosecutors allege that Hill and his son, Jeffery J. Hunt, 25, robbed Donald and Beverly Neer in their home Nov. 4, taking firearms, electronics and cash. Donald Neer was beaten with a tire iron during the robbery, and suffered injuries including three fractured vertebrae in his neck.
The Neers sat in the front row of the audience section during the Thursday morning hearing, behind the defense table where Hill was seated.
Hunt, 1211 Wooster Road, Winona Lake, also faces charges in Lake County, where he is accused of theft and receiving stolen property. He is incarcerated in the Lake County jail.
In other proceedings, Andrew M. Ormanovich, 21, Nappanee, was sentenced to prison on a charge of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury.
Ormanovich is set to serve eight years in the state Department of Correction, plus six years on probation. He was given credit for 149 days he’s already been incarcerated.
“I feel awful,” Ormanovich said about the June 15 robbery. “There’s not a day goes by that I don’t regret that day.”
The robbery took place at Neighborhood Convenience Store, 1712 Oakland Ave., Elkhart. Police charged four accomplices in the crime. Ormanovich and Joshua Bagwell, 20, Nappanee, were the ones who entered the store.
The proprietor was attacked during the robbery. Police said he suffered neck and leg injuries and chest pain due to the assault. The owner said one of the assailants grabbed a box under the register containing $2,500 in cash, and both robbers then fled the store in a gray passenger car.
According to statements in court Thursday, Ormanovich started smoking marijuana at age 15, and has been using methamphetamine for three years. He was using “K2” synthetic marijuana the day of the robbery.
“It’s ruined my life,” Ormanovich said of his drug use.
During a prior court proceeding, Bagwell received a 10-year prison sentence for his role in the robbery, plus six years on probation. Justin M. Kearney, 25, New Paris, who admitted driving the vehicle, has been sentenced to six years in prison plus four years on probation. Kayla Losee, 20, Nappanee, has pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit robbery.
In Circuit Court Thursday, Deputy Prosecutor David Francisco termed Ormanovich the “second most culpable” in the case.
“I hope Mr. Ormanovich gets his act together while he’s in prison,” Francisco said. “My hope is that all these kids get their acts together while they’re in prison.”