Man admits to drug charge at outset of trial

Shaun Mutchler

GOSHEN — An Elkhart man pleaded guilty to dealing meth just as his trial was set to begin Monday.

Shaun Mutchler, 39, entered a plea agreement admitting to the Level 2 felony in Elkhart County Circuit Court. Under the terms of his plea, his total sentence is capped at 16 years.

Judge Michael Christofeno accepted the plea and entered a judgment of conviction. He set sentencing for Dec. 12.

Both sides can present arguments for other terms of Mutchler’s punishment, such as how much actual prison time he faces, at his sentencing hearing. The court has discretion over any remaining terms.

The cap on Mutchler’s total sentence is 14 years below the maximum punishment for a Level 2 felony.

Mutchler was arrested on Jan. 6, 2017, after police found a quantity of crystal meth, marijuana and drug paraphernalia in an Ash Road residence while checking on the welfare of a 9-year-old girl who didn’t show up at school.

His trial was put on hold after he was indicted on two federal drug charges in March 2018. He pleaded guilty to one of the two counts of distribution of meth and received a four-year prison sentence, followed by three years on supervised release.

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