Elkhart man asks court for change of sentence location

The families of the convict and the victim of a fatal 2008 crash speak during the evidentiary hearing.
Posted on June 12, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on June 12, 2013 at 5:09 p.m.

GOSHEN — Three years after he was sentenced for the death of a woman and her unborn child in a 2008 fatal crash, Jon Hicks appeared in court to ask for a modification to his sentence.

In an emotional hearing Wednesday afternoon, June 12, Hicks, 51, petitioned for a change of location for where he will continue his sentence.

Hick was sentenced in 2010 to 15 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and causing the death of another while operating a vehicle. He was involved in a two-vehicle crash Feb. 5, 2008, near the intersection of McDonald and Richmond streets in Elkhart. The driver in the other vehicle, Sara Martinez, 22, lost her unborn child during the crash and died a month later from her injuries.

Hicks was sentenced to 15 years in prison and three years on probation. Nearly three years later, in 2012, Hicks filed a petition to modify his sentence.

During an evidentiary hearing Wednesday, Hicks told the court about his success in the Department of Correction as a library clerk and as an informal GED instructor. He told the court he wanted to be closer to his family, and that an alternative placement within Elkhart County would help him and enable him to help the community at the same time. The Elkhart Community Corrections Center, Salvation Army and Servants of the Street were mentioned as potential areas for alternative placement.

“I will do everything, the rest of my life, to make it up to you,” he told Martinez’s family, who were present at the hearing. “What’s important is where I go from here.”

Hicks’s wife, Valerie Jo Hicks, told to the court that the crash affected her family economically and emotionally.

“I thought we had the happiest life in the world before this accident,” she said.

But deputy prosecutor Don Pitzer talked about Martinez, and the fact that Hicks’s crash in 2008 was not the first time he had been driving under the influence of alcohol. Hicks had been arrested and ordered to undergo treatment in 1994.

After completing his treatment, Hicks continued to drink, he admitted to the court.

“There is a major public issue here. No one can tell this court 100 percent that he will stop drinking after he gets out,” said Pitzer. “This is a risk we cannot take.”

Martinez’s mother, aunt, sister and cousin all spoke to the court, talking about the ways in which Martinez’s death has affected them.

Fernando Hernandez, Martinez’s cousin, said he was in the car with his cousin when the accident happened. He said he could not get up because he had several broken ribs.

“For a while I didn’t want to go on with my life,” Hernandez told the court. “I didn’t have that person I could talk with.”

Judy Castillo, Martinez’s mother, said her daughter left a son and a husband. Martinez’s son, who is now 9 years old, was taken to Mexico to live with his father, and Martinez’s family has not seen them since the funeral.

“He asked for forgiveness, and I did forgive him,” she said about Hicks. “But I don’t think justice has been served for my daughter.”

Judge Terry Shewmaker took the matter under advisement. He has 30 days to send a ruling back to both parties.


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