GOSHEN — An Elkhart man who was arrested for not obeying a summons to testify in a murder trial is arguing that the charge should be thrown out.
Jeremy Wegner, 40, was arrested and charged with contempt of court in December for failing to show up at the murder trial of Scotty Irvin weeks earlier despite being issued a subpoena. Wegner was wanted for questioning as a roommate of Irvin’s at the time Irvin killed his ex-wife’s new boyfriend in November 2016 in Goshen.
Irvin was tried in November 2017 for the murder of Mark Huber, with the judge hearing the evidence and deciding the verdict rather than a jury, at his own request. Circuit Court Judge Michael Christofeno convicted Irvin in February and sentenced him to 64 years in prison.
Wegner, who was warned he could face jail time for contempt, has been acting as his own attorney. He has made a number of filings since his arrest, calling for the charge to be dismissed or the judge to be disqualified from his case.
In a Jan. 3 motion to dismiss the charges, he argued that no accusation is being made that he violated anyone’s rights nor is he accused of “causing anything, real or imagined.” He also argued that there is no corpus delicti – evidence that a crime was committed in the first place – and that the state has no jurisdiction over him.
“Mere geographic location is not evidence of presence within the alleged plaintiff, State of Indiana... The State of Indiana, while obviously not geographic, is at best political as it did not exist prior to 1816,” Wegner wrote. “The phrase State of Indiana appears to be not much more than a dba or pseudonym for lawyers and police officers. This will be shown if a state lawyer responds to this motion. As the laws of the state only apply within the state, there is no evidence, and nothing alleged, the law of the state apply to me.”
Wegner addressed his motion to disqualify Christofeno during a court appearance Thursday, claiming that since the judge was present at the contempt proceedings against him Feb. 28 he was a “witness” to it and “can’t wear both hats as a witness and a judge.” He also took issue with how Christofeno attempted to avoid overlapping questioning of a police officer during the hearing, calling it judicial misconduct and a show of bias against him.
Christofeno pointed out that he didn’t testify at the hearing and so he wasn’t actually a witness. He also read from the transcript of the hearing and pointed out that Wegner didn’t object at the time.
Deputy Elkhart County Prosecutor Don Pitzer’s answer on behalf of the state was brief: “The state’s position is that he is not stating a valid claim for the remedy he is seeking.”
Christofeno told Wegner it would be unfair to immediately rule on his motion so he would take it under advisement for now. He said he’ll have a decision by the end of July, at the same time he rules on the original question of contempt of court.
In the meantime, he set a June 14 hearing so Wegner and the state could fully hash out his motion to dismiss the charge.