By Tyler Roebuck
COLUMBIA CITY — In Whitley County Circuit Court Monday, Luis Hernandez-Dominguez, 23, of Glenview, Ill., pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine, a level 6 felony, and operating while intoxicated, a level 6 felony.
As a non-citizen, Hernandez-Dominguez could potentially face deportation for his guilty plea, according to Judge Matthew Rentschler.
On Jan. 7, Officer Joseph McLaughlin pulled Hernandez-Dominguez over after someone called 911 reporting a possible intoxicated driver, according to police reports. When McLaughlin approached the vehicle, he, “immediately detected a moderate odor of raw marijuana and an alcoholic beverage coming from inside the vehicle,” the report states.
He also noticed that Hernandez-Dominguez’ eyes were bloodshot, and he saw a baggie with “an off-white powder substance.” A later search of the vehicle also allegedly produced a “hand-rolled cigar that contained a green plantlike material.”
Hernandez-Dominguez denied having had anything to drink since the previous night, according to the report, but a test reported his blood-alcohol content at 0.114, above the legal limit of 0.08.
Hernandez-Dominguez is in the U.S. with a temporary visitor license and, because of his guilty plea, Immigration and Customs Enforcement may pursue deportation. He currently has a job in Chicago and, in accordance with his plea agreement, will face up to two years incarcerated.
His sentencing hearing is Jan. 16, 2018.
Alma charged with strangulation
Michael Alma, 47, of South Whitley, was arrested Nov. 20 after an alleged victim appeared at the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department alleging an attack by Alma.
The alleged victim had “visible abrasions under [the] right eye and across the bridge of [the] nose,” court documents state.
After arriving at Alma’s home to assist a child with schoolwork, Alma allegedly refused to let the alleged victim leave. According to documents, Alma allegedly took the alleged victim’s keys and when the person tried to move around him to escape, he allegedly “pushed [the person] to the ground and pinned [the person]’s arms down with his knees.”
He then allegedly began hitting the person with one hand while pressing a gun against theneck with the other, police reports say.
When Deputy Chris Bachelder arrived at Alma’s residence, Alma consented to a search during which officers were unable to locate the alleged gun. Alma said that the alleged victim had threatened and assaulted him, saying the alleged victim “had hit him couple times on the head,” according to court documents.
“I could not see any visible marks or redness on his head,” Bachelder reported.
Alma is charged with criminal confinement, a level 3 felony; strangulation, a level 6 felony; and domestic battery, a class A misdemeanor. If convicted, a level 3 felony carries a sentence of three to 16 years.
In other Whitley Circuit Court news
• Jordan Fairchild, 21, of Columbia City, appeared for an initial hearing on multiple charges of dealing in and possession of methamphetamine, level 4 and 6 felonies, respectively. If convicted, Fairchild could face between two to 12 years.
The court appointed Anthony Churchward to defend Fairchild, and set his bond to $50,000 surety. His next hearing is Jan. 2, 2018.
• Katlynn Shrader, 21, of Fort Wayne, admitted to violating probation with a positive test for marijuana on Nov. 20. Shrader has had prior violations of probation, and so Judge James Heuer revoked the remaining 349 days of her suspended sentence. Because Shrader is pregnant, her sentence will be initially served at the jail but eventually at work release or on home detention, after she is screened and approved to do so.
• Bonnie Smith, 37, of Columbia City, and Joshua Fritz, 31, of Columbia City, violated their conditions of home detention by testing positive for prescription drugs and methamphetamine, respectively. Both had their sentences modified to the Whitley County Work Release facility.
• Jacob Martin, Zachary Long and Aung Oo had their respective pre-trial conferences continued to later dates.