ANGOLA — A jury trial — the first since the COVID-19 pandemic began — has been confirmed for Monday, Aug. 3, in Steuben Superior Court.
Joshua A. Kelley, 38, of Waterloo, was transported from Allen County Jail for a pretrial conference Tuesday afternoon in Steuben County.
He will remain in federal custody, indicted in April for possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Before being transferred this spring to the Fort Wayne jail, Kelley had been held in the Steuben County Jail since a day-long standoff at a Fremont motel on June 14, 2018.
The Steuben County case includes 16 charges, among them two counts of Level 1 felony attempted murder for allegedly shooting at officers.
Prior to the trial, Prosecutor Jeremy Musser said, there will be discussions between the attorneys and the court about how to conduct a trial during a pandemic. Kelley is represented by court-appointed attorney Robert Hardy.
“You’ve just got to start doing the cases,” said Musser.
While some proceedings have been delayed to avoid the crowds associated with large hearings in an attempt to quell the spread of coronavirus, trial courts were required to submit plans for reopening to the Indiana Supreme Court by May 30. Steuben Superior Court’s transition plan has been submitted, but has not received final approval, said clerk Amy Sharp.
“We don’t have anything set in stone,” she said.
One potential plan for distancing those involved in the Kelley trial — scheduled to last a full week — is to flip the courtroom. The jury would sit where the audience traditionally sits and the audience would sit in the jury box.
Kelley’s case has been pending a couple of years in Steuben County. He has a criminal record that includes methamphetamine-related convictions in DeKalb and Noble counties and now also faces unrelated charges in Indiana’s Northern Federal District Court, where he is represented by Fort Wayne public defender Michelle Kraus. The federal charges relate to an alleged incident on March 7, 2018.
A pretrial conference is set in the federal court on Aug. 10, with a three-day jury trial scheduled to commence in Fort Wayne on Aug. 25.
No details on the alleged federal offense are currently available.
In Steuben County, Kelley came onto law enforcement’s radar when a tipster reported a “dead girl in the bathroom” at the Fremont area motel to DeKalb County authorities, say court documents.
Officers entered Room 12, where Kelley was staying, and found the bathroom door shut, says the probable cause affidavit. When they opened the door, Kelley allegedly was pointing a .380-caliber handgun. As the officers exited the room, Kelley allegedly fired at them.
Numerous heavily armed officers from agencies across the state, including an Indiana State Police armored vehicle, converged on the motel and the roads in the area were closed to traffic. The emergency response team deployed pepper spray gas into the room twice. On both occasions, Kelley fired a round from his gun out the window of the hotel room, court documents say.