By Tyler Roebuck
COLUMBIA CITY — Twenty-six-year-old Colton Cabiya, of Churubusco, was sentenced Monday to 10 years, with six to be initially served in prison and four on probation on charges of criminal recklessness and intimidation, both level 5 felonies, and operating while intoxicated, a class A misdemeanor.
The sentence is related to an incident in September when Cabiya kidnapped his wife, used a handgun in a threatening way and led police on a pursuit. Upon his arrest, Cabiya had a blood alcohol content of 0.097, above the legal limit of 0.08.
In court, defense attorney Anthony Churchward pushed for a work release setnence for Cabiya.
“This has opened his eyes to the need to properly maintain his medicine,” Churchward said.
Churchward asked the court to consider that Cabiya had a job at the time of the incident, suffered significant abuse as a child and has a significant history of mental health problems.
Prosecuting Attorney D.J. Sigler wanted the heftiest sentence possible within the agreement.
“My concern here is obviously with the cocktailing of substances in conjunction with the lack of following a mental health regimen,” he said. “I shudder to think what would’ve happened if they were strangers that day.”
Judge Matthew Rentschler offered the sentence.
“I am impressed with your remorsefulness, with your honesty in addressing what happened with you,” he said. “I take note of your youthfulness – you’re not a hardened criminal. What you did in this case was horrific, and I’m shocked it didn’t have more severe consequences than it did,” he said.
Cabiya will serve a 10-year sentence, in accordance with his plea agreement. Initially, he will be at the Department of Corrections, but eventually Rentschler thinks he could earn his way into a work release program.
“I will intervene to make sure there’s a spot for you at Community Corrections if I have to,” Rentschler said.
In other Whitley Circuit Court news
• Adam Geisleman, 33, of Columbia City, was sentenced to 10 years, with nine years to be served in prison on charges of dealing in methamphetamine, a level 4 felony. The sentence will be consecutive to a superior court case in Whitley County and a separate case in Noble County.
Churchward wanted a light sentence for Geisleman.
“Adam wasn’t out on the street dealing, but was turned in by a CI who was a lifelong friend,” he said.
Sigler, naturally, disagreed. “Mr. Geisleman was accused of dealing not one, not two but three times. Mr. Geisleman is a dealer, period, end of sentence.”
Judge James Heuer handed down the sentence, saying he believes Geisleman is a high risk to reoffend and that Geisleman has a significant criminal history of 16 misdemeanors, two misdemeanors and had failed probation seven times.
“Mr. Geisleman, you have a long way to go,” Heuer said.
• Gavin Ulshafer, 19, of Liberty Mills, and Destiny Wilson, 19, of South Whitley, appeared before Judge Rentschler for an initial hearing on nearly identical charges of burglary as level four and five felonies, and theft as a level 6 felony. The pair allegedly broke into a property on Dec. 4 and stole $250, a handgun and several other objects.
If convicted, Ulshafer and Wilson could face up to 12 years in prison. Rentschler appointed Churchward to represent Ulshafer and the law firm of Baber & Baber to represent Wilson, who also has an ongoing superior court case.
Their bonds were set at $75,000 surety, and their next hearing is Jan. 8.
• Billy Crowe, 37, of Medaryville, pleaded guilty to trespassing, a class A misdemeanor. Both prosecution and defense waved the pre-sentencing investigation, and Crowe received a sentence of time served.
• Austin Walker, 23, of Columbia City, admitted to violating probation and will serve one year in the county jail. Walker drove without a license and left the scene of an accident, both of which are in an ongoing superior court case.
• Steven Gater and Chris Lothamer received sentence modifications, and will transfer from work release to home detention.
• Justin Thompson, Frank Bailey and Jordan Grubbs had their respective pre-trial conferences continued to later dates.