The Herald Bulletin

December 20, 2013

Son of Elwood mayor sentenced to prison

Gets 16 months for violating probation

By Zach Osowski
The Herald Bulletin

---- — ANDERSON — Tyler Arnold was sentenced to jail time for violation of his probation due to his recent felony charges.

Arnold, the 21-year old son of Elwood Mayor Ron Arnold, was arrested in October and charged with five felonies stemming from an incident in which he allegedly shook the two-month old baby of his girlfriend, Kaylee Kelley.

Arnold was charged with three Class B felonies including aggravated battery and neglect of a dependent, a Class C felony for criminal recklessness and a Class D felony, maintaining a common nuisance, drugs.

All this occurred while Arnold was under house arrest and on probation for previous charges. In August he pleaded guilty to three counts of Class C felony fraud and Class D felony theft and was sentenced to 24 months, 18 of which were in-home detention.

He was back in court Friday for a hearing to decide whether the new charges should result in a violation of his sentence. The result of his probation being violated was not an indication of guilt or innocence regarding the felony charges, although Arnold did admit to using marijuana which resulted in a failed drug test while he was on probation.

Arnold's lawyer, Bryan Williams, brought several witnesses to the stand, including Arnold's parents, to try and prove his client was innocent of all charges as they relate to the probation hearing.

Ultimately, Judge David Happe decided not to take the two battery charges and the criminal recklessness charge into account. He said the evidence he had heard during the meeting did not warrant consideration. He did take into account the Class B felony of neglect of a dependent and the Class D felony for marijuana use.

Happe said courts sometimes have flexibility when assigning punishment for probation violations, but when drug use leads to other serious situations that flexibility goes away. He said this was one of those inflexible situations.

"Mr. Arnold put the child in a place of danger by allowing the drug-using mother in the house," Happe said during the sentencing. "And he did not act in a timely manner relating to the health of the child."

That, coupled with the admittance to using marijuana and not showing up for a scheduled drug test, led to Happe sentencing Arnold to prison rather than giving him additional probation or keeping his sentence as it was.

"This is a serious sanction to reflect a serious charge," Happe said.

Arnold will remain in prison now for the duration of his probation sentence. The 85 days he has currently served since his October arrest will be reflected in the sentence. Williams said with the time currently served and a two for one agreement, his client is looking at 16 months in prison.

Arnold's jury trial for the five charges is scheduled to begin on April 22 of next year. That will determine what additional time, if any, is served.

Williams said the most important part of the finding for him and his client was the fact that the prosecutor couldn't convince the judge to include the battery charges in his decision.

"The judge didn't find in any way that my client had actually harmed the baby," Williams said.

The standard of proof in a decision like this is preponderance as opposed to beyond a reasonable doubt. If the state couldn't prove preponderance, it would seem difficult to prove Arnold is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The incident in question occurred on a weekend in September after a baby was brought to Riley Children's Hospital. The Department of Child Services was alerted after the baby showed signs of trauma to the brain causing hemorrhaging and seizures. The baby also reportedly had a broken foot and fractured femur.

Dr. Ralph Hicks, who examined the child, told police the child was placed in intensive care after suffering trauma he believed was caused by violent shaking and impact against a hard surface, The baby has since been released from the hospital. but the effects the injuries could have on the child's development are still unknown.

In addition to the marijuana Arnold admitted to smoking, a probable cause affidavit said Arnold and Kelley regularly abused drugs around the infant, including heroin and morphine.

According to an interview conducted by Elwood Police Chief Sam Hanna, Kelley alleged she walked in on Arnold shaking her son. Williams pointed out that admission was an hour and 15 minutes into the interview after Hanna repeatedly told her he knew she saw something.

Hanna said in court Friday his persistent questioning was simply an interview technique. Kelley did not answer questions regarding the incident or the interview under advisement from her attorney.

Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB, or call 640-4847.

Charges against Tyler Arnold\ -- Class B felony aggravated battery -- Class B felony neglect of a dependent -- Class B felony battery -- Class C felony criminal recklessness -- Class D felony maintaining a common nuisance