News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 3, 2014

Final 3 sentences given for officer Long death

Issuance of prison terms end 2011 case

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

BLOOMINGTON — Three defendants have received prison sentences in connection to the July 2011 shooting death of a Terre Haute Police officer.

Plea agreements were accepted Friday afternoon in Monroe Circuit Court 2 for Jenny Torres, Jesse Padgett II and Roberta Utterback, all of whom admitted to class-D felony resisting law enforcement on the day that Officer Brent Long was killed in an exchange of gunfire with a wanted suspect.

Vigo County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rob Roberts said that Utterback was also sentenced in two unrelated drug cases for possession of methamphetamine and possession of a controlled substance, both class-D felonies. Utterback received a  total sentence of three and one-half years in the Indiana Department of Correction. She has been in police custody since July 2011, Roberts said. She will receive credit for time already spend in jail, minus the time she served on a federal court conviction for making a false material statement to police on the day that a federal task force tried to serve an arrest warrant at an apartment in the 1800 block of North Eighth Street.

Monroe Judge Marc Kellams heard sentencing arguments for Torres and Padgett on Friday. Torres was sentenced to 18 months in prison, with credit for 169 days served in custody. Padgett received a 24-month sentence, with credit for 14 days served. Both Torres and Padgett have also served federal prison sentences for pleading guilty to making a false material statement to police.

Roberts said that the resolution of the three criminal cases wraps up the prosecution of suspects in the death of Long.

Co-defendants Heather Elkins and Charles Elkins have already been sentenced to prison through plea agreements in their cases.

“Certainly we hope this brings closure for the Long family, more than anything else,” Roberts said. “And, we appreciate the public support at the time of Officer Long’s death and in the months since.”

The five criminal cases — originally filed in Vigo County following the July 2011 incident — were transferred to Monroe County after the defendants claimed they could not receive fair trials in Vigo County because of pretrial publicity and public outrage in response to Officer Long’s death.

The five defendants were present in July 2011 when a federal task force presented an arrest warrant at the residence of  Heather Elkins on North Eighth Street. Officer Long was killed in an exchange of gunfire with the wanted suspect, and Long’s K-9 partner Shadow was also injured by gunfire. The suspect later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound as police closed in on him.

No representatives of the Long family were at the sentencing hearings, Roberts said, but a victim impact statement from the Long family was presented to the court.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com.