The pace of jury trials in Hamilton County since early 2022 has continued to increase. In just the last half of August, the Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office presented three cases to juries -- each one involving violent crime, and each one resulting in findings of guilt for all felony offenses.
First, in a trial that began on August 15th, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Andre Miksha and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ashley Thompson presented the case against Heidi Marie Littlefield: murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder. Following a seven-day trial in Hamilton Superior Court No. 1, the jury returned verdicts of guilty on all three counts, and sentencing is set for October 7th. This trial involved the murder of Francis Kelley, a Carmel man, who was killed by asphyxiation due to manual strangulation or neck compression with acute fentanyl intoxication listed as a contributing factor in his death. Ms. Littlefield’s daughter, Logan Runyon, testified in chilling detail to the discussions, plans, and ultimate actions taken in January 2021 to kill Francis Kelley. Ms. Runyon is currently serving a twenty-six-year prison sentence following a plea agreement through which she was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. “While the work my deputies put into this case was significant and tireless, the success at jury trial would not have been possible without the truly exceptional work of Detective Greg Loveall of the Carmel Police Department,” said Prosecuting Attorney D. Lee Buckingham II.
Second, in a trial that began on August 16th, Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys Lars Olson and Toula Guedel, who both specialize in the prosecution of domestic violence offenses, presented the case against Kevin Michael Doberneck. Following a two-day jury trial, Mr. Doberneck was found guilty of felony domestic battery resulting in moderate bodily injury and not guilty of interference with the reporting of a crime, a misdemeanor offense. This trial involved a February 2021 violent domestic incident during which Mr. Doberneck was physically violent toward his girlfriend. Mr. Doberneck punched the victim, threw her into a table, grabbed her by the neck, and struck her in the side of her head. “The prosecution of domestic violence is a key focus of this office. Not only have two full-time prosecutors been assigned to that caseload for a few years but I formed the Domestic Violence Task Force in October 2019 to better understand and address the scourge of domestic violence for our current and future generations,” said Prosecutor Buckingham. Sentencing is set for September 22nd in Hamilton Superior Court No. 3.
Third, in a trial that began on August 24th, Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys Rachel Jefferson and David McPherson presented the case against Emad Samir Rezk Ayad. Ms. Jefferson, who has specialized in the prosecution of sex crimes for most of her lengthy career, and Mr. McPherson were successful in convincing the jury of Mr. Ayad’s guilt of all charges after a three-day trial: criminal confinement in two counts, armed robbery, and sexual battery. This trial involved a May 2020 incident at Raymond Worth Park in Westfield during which Mr. Ayad held two teenagers at knifepoint in their vehicle, demanded a kiss from the female, and stole a backpack belonging to the male. Sentencing is set for October 13th in Hamilton Circuit Court. Mr. Buckingham explained, “When the peace and dignity of our daily lives are so dramatically disturbed, our community should take solace that our Hamilton County law enforcement agencies, including the Westfield Police Department here, will take the matters seriously and that my deputies will diligently work to ensure that the offenders are held responsible for their abhorrent criminal behavior.”