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Abuse charges against former jailer dismissed

The former Harrison County corrections officer accused of torturing an African American teenager while the teen was incarcerated at the Harrison County Jail had his charges dismissed last week.
Last Tuesday, Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk filed a response to a motion to dismiss made May 30 by Zachariah (Nathan) Adams’ attorney, Anne Walsh.
In the response, Schalk says that the burden of proof could not be made by the State.
On Sept. 13, 2010, Dennis Byrd, former prosecutor, filed charges against Adams and co-defendants Sheila Barber and Ross Timberlake based on alleged events that occurred on May 22 of that year in which 18-year-old Tevin Bald of Louisville was allegedly placed in a padded cell where he was stripped naked, placed in a restraint chair and had a spit mask and hood placed over his face. Bald alleged that pepper spray was sprayed inside the hood before it was placed on him and into the area in which Bald was being kept.
On March 7 of last year, after an extensive review of the case by both the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department and the prosecutor’s office, charges against Barber and Timberlake were dropped because the charges ‘grossly lacked prosecutorial merit.’
Both Barber and Timberlake returned to work at the jail after their charges were dismissed.
‘Taking into consideration that two independent investigations have revealed that the co-defendants were innocent of any criminal wrongdoing whatsoever, the State of Indiana believes it would be unable to meet its burden of proof, if this case proceeded to a jury trial,’ Schalk’s motion said.
The response went on to say that the State agrees that the charging information was ‘defective as filed, and as a result of this and the State’s inability to carry its burden at trial, this cause should be dismissed.’
In the motion to dismiss, Walsh and Adams alleged that the charging information was ‘defective’ under Indiana Code 35-34-1-4, which, among other things, requires that certain items have to be able to be proven in court.
Schalk said that three independent investigations were made into the case and all three came up with the same result: that charges against Adams should be dropped.
‘(Dropping charges) happens more so when a victim recants their story,’ Schalk said. ‘It happens. It happens in every prosecutor’s office across the country. You have to understand the facts surrounding this case. I didn’t believe charges should have been filed based on all of the information.
‘We have a lot more information than the media has and the general public has. I’ve been very clear about this since day one. I want to do the right thing. This is the right thing to do.
‘Several members of law enforcement all deemed it meritless; all say the State of Indiana can’t carry burden without a reasonable doubt. I can sleep very well at night knowing I’ve done the right thing,’ Schalk said. ‘You can’t base your decision based on what the public thinks. You have to base it on the facts.’
Harrison County Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye said last week that he’s not made a final decision on whether or not he would allow Adams to return to his former job should it be requested.