News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

June 22, 2013

Elkins sentenced for part in Officer Long shooting

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A Terre Haute woman connected with the July 2011 shooting death of a Terre Haute police officer received a four-year prison sentence on Friday.

Heather Elkins, 24, appeared in Monroe Circuit Court 2 -- along with co-defendants Charles “C.J.” Elkins and Jesse Padgett -- where she admitted to her involvement in concealing wanted suspect Shaun Seeley behind a wall panel in a closet on July 11, 2011.

The cases of Heather Elkins, C.J. Elkins, Padgett, Roberta Utterback and Jenny Torres were transferred to Monroe County after the defendants claimed they could not receive fair trials in Vigo County due to pretrial publicity and public outrage about Officer Long’s death.

The five defendants were present in July 2011 when a federal task force presented a warrant for Seeley’s arrest at the residence of Elkins and Seeley on North Eighth Street. Terre Haute Police Officer Brent Long was killed in an exchange of gunfire with Seeley.

Long’s K-9 partner Shadow had indicated that Seeley was concealed behind the panel. Shadow was also injured by gunfire.

During Friday’s hearing, Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt presented the factual basis for a charge of resisting law enforcement, which stated that Heather Elkins -- who was helped by C.J. Elkins -- tried to cover the panel with clothing, and failed to tell police officers that Seeley was hidden in the house when asked.

Monroe Judge Marc Kellams accepted the plea agreement, which resolved all five criminal cases pending against Heather Elkins. According to the plea agreement, she received a sentence of 2 years, 6 months for charges of class-D felony possession of methamphetamine, maintaining a common nuisance and receiving stolen property resisting law enforcement. She received an additional 6-month sentence for an October 2010 case involving possession of methamphetamine, another 6-month sentence for a November 2008 charge of possession of methamphetamine, and another 6-month sentence for an April 2010 charge of possession of methamphetamine. The sentences are mandatorily consecutive sentences because they occurred while Elkins was on free bond from another case.

The plea agreement also dismissed a charge of theft stemming from a March 2008 case.

Judge Kellams noted that credit time for Elkins remains to be figured because there is some discrepancy in how her jail time so far has been credited, considering that she has also been incarcerated in federal prison after pleading guilty to federal charges related to her actions on the day of Officer Long’s death.

The same credit time concerns exist for C.J. Elkins, Padgett, Utterback and Torres, the judge noted.

The cases had been originally set to go to trial in August. However, that date has been postponed due to the possibility that the remaining cases may be resolved through plea agreements.

The judge took no action concerning Padgett and C.J. Elkins, who are now being held in the Vigo County Jail. Utterback was not transported for the hearing due to a continuance granted to her defense attorney. Torres failed to appear for the hearing, and the judge advised her attorney to check on why Torres failed to appear and report that reason to the court.

Kellams set the next pretrial hearings in the case for Aug. 30 in Monroe County. The jury trial date has been taken under advisement.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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