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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

2012 Year in Review -- Top five

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

This week, the Greene County Daily World is featuring its Top 10 news and sports stories of the year 2012. Stories 6-10 appeared in Monday's paper, and stories 1-5 will be published in Wednesday's paper.

(By Shad Cox) The Eastern Greene Lady Thunderbirds gather at mid-court to celebrate their third consecutive Class 2A Volleyball Regional Championship at Evansville. The Lady Thunderbirds defeated Evansville Mater Dei to claim the crown. [Order this photo]
No. 1 News Story: Knapp sentenced to life in prison

The felony murder conviction of Randy L. Knapp for the murder of Stacey J. Lawson was voted the No. 1 story in the 2012 Year in Review by the Greene County Daily World.

Knapp was sentenced to life in prison without parole by a jury of his peers Oct. 31 for the murder of Lawson.

Lawson's badly beaten body was found Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011 at the cemetery behind Newark Baptist Church by her boyfriend Patrick Lewis, just a few yards from where her little brother was buried.

According to Lewis' testimony, Lawson received a phone call at his residence shortly before 4 p.m. on a Friday, she went outside and got in a black Ford Taurus -- which was later confirmed to be driven by Knapp.

Lewis told the jury he became worried and went searching for Lawson when she did not return after leaving with Knapp that Friday evening.

The eight-day trial included testimonies from Lewis, friends of Knapp and law enforcement officials involved in the case.

Brian Patton and Brittany Lake, friends of Knapp, claimed on the witness stand he had admitted to the murder of Lawson on two occasions. Patton also said Knapp re-enacted how he struck her in the head multiple times.

When asked by Greene County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw why Knapp would want to hurt Lawson, Patton said Knapp blamed her for the death of Jeffre Alan Sims.

Knapp considered Sims his step-son because he had dated Sims' mother for several years.

Sims had died from an apparent suicide in a Bloomington motel just two weeks before Lawson was murdered.

"He said he got a hold of her (Lawson) and went over to pick her up. He said her boyfriend saw him pick her up," Patton recalled on the witness stand. "They went for a ride or something, then they drove to the (Newark) cemetery where her brother was buried and I guess they got into it."

Knapp claimed to have been in Bloomington at a friend's house during the time frame Lewis said Lawson was picked up from the residence.

Knapp's cell phone records and a series of voicemails left on Jeremy Walker's cell phone, another friend of Knapp, corroborated witness testimony.

It was not until several days after Walker had originally been interviewed when he realized Knapp had left voicemail messages describing himself as "raged and crazed on meth."

Former Criminal Investigator for the Monroe County Prosecutor's Office, Alan McBride, took the stand to discuss his findings in the voicemails left on Walker's cell phone.

A message was left by Knapp on Walker's cell phone stating, "I'm going to see (her) right now and I might beat her brains out," was left Friday, Aug. 19 at 3:14 p.m.

Sgt. Mark Hess of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, who also serves on the U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force, pinpointed an approximate location of where the phone calls were made.

"It (cell phone use) was in an area consistent with these coverage towers, and the (Newark) cemetery is in that range," Hess explained to the jury.

It took the jury, consisting of 10 women and two men, three hours of deliberation to convict Knapp of the felony murder charge.

-- By Sabrina Westfall

No. 1 Sports Story: Shakamak Lakers earned a fifth trip to Victory Field

With starter Patrick Green helping his own cause with a three-run blast in the top of the third, the Shakamak Lakers earned a fifth trip to Victory Field in Indianapolis following an 8-5 win over South Central (Elizabeth) in the IHSAA Class A South Semistate.

This story was voted the top sports story of 2012.

"For any program it's a dream come true," Laker coach Chip Sweet said. "I've been there before personally, but this is a brand new group of kids.

"They were sitting there as little kids in the bleachers watching, so this is a great opportunity. It's just a dream come true for them."

The game began as a rout but turned into a gut-wrenching contest as the Rebels managed to get the tying run to the plate in their last at-bat.

After the Laker offense found sparks early with three runs in the second, third and two more in the fourth, they found themselves fighting off South Central.

Brodie Crowe and Brett Yeryar set the table for an unlikely source of runs early when Luke Sweet sent a ball into the gap in left centerfield.

It plated Crowe and Yeryar and gave the Lakers a 2-0 lead.

Sweet added the third run of the inning when he crossed two outs later on an RBI fielder's choice from senior Robert Fowler.

Brock Dowell and Dylan Collins drew walks to lead off the third and chase South Central starter Alex Wiseman from the hill.

That left Green facing the Rebels' top pitcher Matt Vieth. He drilled the first pitch he saw from the senior right hander to straight away centerfield.

Shakamak added two more runs -- as it turned out -- very big runs that would give Yeryar and Dowell, who worked the seventh for the save, a needed cushion in the fourth.

Kyler Fulford's one-out walk ahead of a botched play on a Fowler sacrifice attempt gave RBI opportunities to Dowell and Collins that didn't go unused.

Dowell slapped a ball into right field to plate Fulford before Collins produced the eighth run of the game with a bad hop single over the South Central third baseman.

The Rebels rallied for a trio of runs in the sixth before rallying to bring the equalizing run to the plate against Dowell who induced a pair of strikeouts and a groundball to short to seal the win in the seventh.

The Lakers luck ran out a week later when they fell to Lafayette Central Catholic 12-2 at Victory Field in Indianapolis.

-- By Rick Curl

No. 2 News Story: Sheriff's deputies shot on Fourth of July

The shooting of two Greene County sheriff's deputies who were answering a domestic call on the Fourth of July near Owensburg was voted the No. 2 news story of the year 2012.

The shooter -- Michael Lane, Jr., 25, of Owensburg, died during the gunfire exchange between GCSD Deputies James O'Malley and Brad Deckard and Indiana State Police officers.

Both deputies suffered gunshot wounds believed to have been fired from a shotgun by Lane in a shootout that developed when they came to his residence.

The incident took place along State Road 45 South -- one-fourth mile north of State Road 58, near Owensburg and the NSA Crane Bloomington Gate at Lane's residence.

Lane immediately opened fire on the police officers when they arrived at the residence.

Officers were able to return gunfire.

ISP Troopers at the scene were eventually able to remove the deputies safely from the scene, Sgt. Curt Durnil of the Indiana State Police said.

Once the deputies were taken to an awaiting ambulance, a perimeter was established around the residence and the Indiana State Police Emergency Response Section (ERS) was called to the scene. The ERS team then utilized the Indiana State Police Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team's Robot to make entry into the residence, where it found Lane was deceased.

A neighbor, Amy Wilson, told the Greene County Daily World, there was a long history of domestic trouble at the Lane home.

A female involved in a confrontation with Lane was able to leave the residence before officers arrived on the scene.

Both deputies were shot in the shoulder area while O'Malley also suffered shotgun pellet wounds to his leg.

Deckard was treated in the emergency room at IU Health Bloomington Hospital and then released.

O'Malley was admitted following surgery, but released the next day.

Both deputies were wearing protective vests.

Greene County Sheriff Terry Pierce learned of the shooting while he and other deputies were walking in the Fourth of July Linton Freedom Festival Parade. They immediately left the parade and responded to the scene and to the hospital to check on the medical status of both deputies.

The incident underscored the danger local law enforcement officers face when they are called to domestic incidents, which are many times unpredictable and violent.

An autopsy conducted on Lane on July 5 showed he died of a single gunshot wound to the chest, according to Greene County Coroner Sherry Wilson.

Wilson called the death a "homicide" meaning "someone else caused the death rather than it being a self-inflicted" fatal wound.

Both deputies have since returned to duty.

-- By Nick Schneider

No. 2 Sports Story: Miner football wins sixth regional

Capturing the No. 2 sports story of 2012 was the Linton-Stockton Miners football team with their sixth regional crown in football.

This time it was the West Washington Senators who fell victim to the top-rated defense in Class A as the Miners allowed just 164 total yards on their way to a 28-0 win at Campbellsburg.

The Miners were able to contain the strong-arm Senator quarterback Cody Maudlin. The sophomore, who had guided West Washington to a 9-3 record coming into the game, was held to just 111 yards on 10 of 25 passing.

But shutting down a solid passing game was only half the defensive story for Linton-Stockton.

On the ground the Senators were unable to establish anything significant and were held to a dismal 53 yards.

While the defense was showcasing their strength, the offense was turning success in the trenches into points -- but it wasn't the easiest part of the night either.

After stalling on their first drive, Linton-Stockton's vaunted, high-powered offense finally found their game legs and took control with a signature of the offense -- big plays.

Koye Kaiser (who earned All-State honors as a defensive back for the second consecutive season), once again led the ground attack, hauled the football just 16 times for 129 yards. The biggest chunk came on his first carry of the night when he tore his way through the West Washington defense for a 57-yard score at the 9:06 mark to give the Miner D all the points they would need.

Soon-to-be All-State quarterback Austin Karazsia had another solid night, despite a slow start.

The senior signalcaller finished the night 25 of 34 for 245 yards. He added a 29-yard scoring strike to Cole Bradbury to extend the lead to 14-0 after Dyllanne Deischer's second of four PATs.

Bradbury helped bury the Senators a little further when he ran the ball in to the end zone from eight yards out.

Kaiser wrapped up the scoring in the fourth quarter when put the final points on the scoreboard with a 5-yard slice and dice through the West Washington defense.

While the Miners celebrated on a chilly Friday night on the road, the following week they would see their hearts broken at home when a fourth-and-goal play against Indianapolis Scecina Memorial was ruled short of the goal line, ending the dream of a state title with a 17-14 overtime loss.

It was the second year in a row the Raiders would end the Miners' title hopes as they put together back-to-back 13-1 seasons.

-- By Rick Curl

No. 3 News Story: Interstate 69 interchange opens in Greene County

The opening of the section of Interstate 69 in Greene County was voted No. 3 story for the Year in Review.

Gov. Mitch Daniels hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the US 231 and I-69 interchange Nov. 12 -- a sector of the 67-mile corridor -- in Greene County as part of a series of ribbon cuttings on the Evansville to Indianapolis interstate.

"Many people said this interstate expansion wouldn't happen in their lifetime, but it's here. In addition to opening the road ahead of schedule and under budget, we're opening greater economic opportunity, faster and safer travel and improved connectivity," Daniels said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Daniels estimated approximately 40,000 wrecks a year will be prevented with the implementation of I-69.

It is expected the opening of the I-69 interchange could create possibilities for small communities along the route.

"All of Indiana does not look like Metro Indianapolis or Bloomington. It should be the birthright of every Hoosier to live in a prosperous community," Daniels added.

Naval Support Activity (NSA) Crane Commanding Officer James Stewart said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony will help Crane see substantial benefits with the interchange being less than two miles from the base.

"We create essential products, and these products will now reach the aircrafts, ships and men on the frontlines quicker and more efficiently," Stewart said.

The WestGate at Crane Technology Park has continued to expand, and a groundbreaking ceremony was recently held for the opening of a new Greene County Health office.

The construction of the I-69 project is years ahead of schedule and approximately $80 million under budget in construction costs alone.

Total estimates suggest the project is approximately $300 million under budget.

Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) Commissioner Michael Cline said the opening of the corridor will present several opportunities for the communities associated with the interchanges.

"One of the key benefits of the new corridor is that it provides greater connectivity to important areas of the state that have been historically underserved," Cline said. "I-69 will significantly reduce travel times and provide residents across southwest Indiana with improved access to jobs, education and healthcare."

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony Daniels stressed the hard work and dedication of the INDOT construction workers made the early opening of the corridors possible.

Motorists can now travel from the U.S. 231 interchange in Greene County to Evansville on I-69.

-- By Sabrina Westfall

No. 3 Sports Story: Lady Thunderbirds win third straight volleyball regional title

The Eastern Greene Lady Thunderbirds claimed their third straight IHSAA Class 2A Volleyball Regional title to stake themselves to the No. 3 spot on the list of 2012's top sports stories.

The Class 2A No. 4-ranked Lady T-Birds survived a first set loss to outlast host Evansville Mater Dei 27-29, 25-19, 25-21, 25-21 to claim the win at Evansville.

The match was a battle of two Southern Indiana volleyball heavyweights that turned out to be a prototypical Eastern Greene match.

With seniors Scottie Ingram and Casie Divine leading the charge, the Lady Thunderbirds overcame first set troubles.

"It's been typical of what we've done this year, but I'm not sure why we're doing it," EGHS coach Gina Ingram said. "Maybe it's because we're thinking we know we're going to out or let's make everybody in the stands think that it's going to be a nail biter and give some gray hairs to someone."

She said after her team saw the Lady Wildcats come roaring back to claim the first set after trailing, they decided that it was time to make more productive use of their first chance to put away points.

"In the second set, third set and fourth set, especially the second and third sets, we put balls away right off the bat," Ingram said. "Which is what we have to do - I don't know why we don't have that mindset and put the ball away as soon as we go to work."

One key to the win came in Eastern Greene's ability to stop 6-2 sophomore middle hitter Tori Schickel and 5-11 junior Maura Muensttermann.

"We knew they had improved a lot and we knew their insides would give us fits," Ingram said. "We were trying real hard to keep Muensterman on the back row, that was our goal to do more damage for us and keep the ball in our hands."

Divine ended up with 16 service points to go along with her 17 kills while the other half of the senior jackhammers - Ingram - finished with a match leading 31 kills.

With the win the Lady T-Birds traveled to Forest Park High School in Ferdinand for the semistate.

After defeating Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter 25-20, 25-21, 25-19 in the semifinal round of the semistate, they fell to a very talented Providence squad in straight sets 25-18, 25-20, 25-16.

-- By Rick Curl

No. 4 News Story:Greene County General Hospital broke ground on $6.5 rennovation

In mid-October, Greene County General Hospital embarked on what hospital leaders called a "new era" for the Linton-based medical facility.

Before the first shovels of dirt were turned ---- signaling the start of the $6.5 million state of the art emergency room expansion as well as renovation to the physical therapy, radiology, pharmacy departments ---- Greene County General Hospital's Chief Financial Officer/Assistant CEO Tim Norris called this a good and important day for the entire Greene County community.

The major expansion, which ranks as the No. 4 news story of the year, was first announced in a February press conference in which former administrator Jonas Uland said over the past year, the hospital's board of trustees developed strategic plan initiatives in order to continue providing care to the community with an eye on taking care of needs in a setting that lacks in the number of primary care physicians.

"The reason for the renovation is we have outgrown ourselves in several departments like physical therapy, pharmacy, lab and X-ray. Our expansion of our emergency room is going make it far more efficient and effective," Uland stated.

Norris, who took over leadership of the hospital after Uland's retirement on Sept. 28 after 32 years with GCGH, credited the board of trustee members, the hospital's staff and area banks ---- Bloomfield State Bank, Farmer's & Mechanics Federal Savings and Loan and the Crane Federal Credit Union ---- for providing the vision and financial support to make the project a reality.

Construction of Phase I, which includes the new emergency department addition as well as the new Main Entrance and Physical Therapy renovation, is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of 2013.

The emergency room expansion work will be centered on the east side of the hospital with an approximate 8,000 square foot addition. There will also be some space in the addition for radiology.

Construction of Phase II which includes renovation of the Mammography Area, Radiology Area, Ultrasound Room, and Imaging Department is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2014.

There will be separate ER canopy-covered entrances for patients and for ambulance vehicle drop-off. The main front entry to the hospital will also get a canopy cover for drop-offs.

The project will add some parking spaces and there will be a lot of glass and a lot of natural light coming into the new space and a lot of openness in the design by architect Ernie Dreher from The Estopinal Group from Jeffersonville.

Norris said planned improvements in the ER will bring a new level of quality to the hospital with a better quality facility with state-of-the-art equipment that's comparable with any hospital in the area.

Former GCGH Board of Trustees president Ralph Hiatt said the expansion was very much needed.

"Three emergency room beds in this day and age just isn't enough," Hiatt said in saying the ER room in this county is heavily used because of a lack of primary care physicians.

-- By Nick Schneider

No. 4 Sports Story: Eastern Greene boys basketball set a new school record

Last year was a banner season for the Eastern Greene Thunderbird boys basketball team.

They set a school record with 24 wins and advanced to the final game of the Class 2A Southridge Regional.

That and the retirement of coach Andy Igel, which came after guiding the T-Birds to their fifth sectional championship, was voted the No. 4 sports story of 2012.

EGHS' all-time leading scorer and T-Bird assistant Levi Carmichael took over as coach of his alma mater.

Ever since mid-season (2011-12), the wins continued to pile up for Eastern Greene and Sullivan and it was apparent that two of the best high school boys basketball teams in Class 2A were on a collision course to meet at the North Knox Sectional.

After two tournament wins by EGHS and one by the Golden Arrows, the first game between the schools in 17 years was set.

With a third straight sectional title on the line for Sullivan (2010 and 2011 in Class 3A) and a second in a row within the grasp of the Thunderbirds, an estimated crowd of 4,000 had to wait until the final seconds before a key blocked shot by Miles Hutchison and two free throws by JT Yoho helped secure a 47-44 Eastern Greene victory.

"It was a shame that someone had to lose this ball game," Sullivan coach Jeff Moore told the media after being denied his ninth sectional championship at an eighth different site. "They are a very good ball club.

"That's why they are where they're at. We're both two very good ball clubs."

Igel had similar sentiments.

"Coach Moore does a great job and they have a great basketball team," said Igel. "It is a shame that one of us had to lose tonight.

"They deserved to win as much or more than we did. We had to fight and claw for everything we got against a heck of a team."

Eastern Greene looked like anything but a back-to-back sectional champion in the first 14-plus minutes, as the Thunderbirds fell behind 27-15 with one minute and 47 seconds to play in the opening half.

The T-Birds cut the deficit to 29-23 at intermission and the lead reached 16-4, tying the game at 31-all midway in the third quarter.

Eventually they took a 39-38 lead to the fourth quarter after a four-point play by Logan Frye.

Miles Hutchison blocked a shot by Sullivan's Rhett Smith in the final seconds to preserve the victory.

Eastern Greene defeated Forest Park 58-45 in the regional semifinals a week later and then lost to Providence 46-43 in the title game later that day.

At the beginning of the 2012-13 season, Carmichael has led EGHS to a 6-0 start.

-- By B.J. Hargis

No. 5 News Story: Standoff in Linton creates hostage situation

A nearly nine-hour standoff Aug. 10 between police and a Linton man who took his three children hostage was voted as the No. 5 story of the year.

The standoff with police began at about 3:25 a.m. and ended about 12:40 p.m. when 38-year-old Ian E. Long was taken into custody after a State Police Tactical Response Team entered the home at 79 SE 3rd St. and found him asleep in the attic.

Long was later charged with intimidation with a deadly weapon, a class C felony, and criminal mischief, a class A misdemeanor, in Greene Superior Court.

A Sept. 17 pre-trial conference date was set to coincide with an already set pre-trial date in an unrelated intimidation and battery with body waste on a law enforcement officer, firefighter or correctional officer case filed July 11.

In that case, Long, reported to be a military veteran, is alleged to have threatened and spit saliva on two Linton police officers when they responded to his residence after he threatened to commit suicide by holding a knife to his throat and told his wife that he was going to kill himself, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by Linton Police Officer Debbie McDonald-Miller.

However, both cases were continued so a pair of mental health evaluations could be completed.

Long, who moved to Linton from Sparta, Wis., is reported to suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome following military duty.

Those evaluations were filed in November and on Nov. 27, Greene Superior Court Judge Dena Martin ruled Long was unable to stand trial because of his lack of mental understanding and capacity to assist in his legal defense.

No one was hurt in the standoff, but there were some tense moments.

About 6 a.m., a 10-year-old male child was released when he was sent out of the house by Long with a two-way radio to give to police. He was secured by police and not allowed to return to the residence.

Officers heard shots fired inside the residence about 7 a.m.

The remaining two children - unknown ages - came out of the house just after 11 a.m.

The Indiana State Police Tactical SWAT team arrived about 8 a.m. and set up a perimeter of heavily-armed officers dressed in camo-colored gear.

Outside the home of the war veteran was an American Flag flying upside down, which is a sign of distress.

Several unsuccessful attempts by police were made to contact Long by telephone and loudspeaker.

Police learned that Long had fired a 12-gauge shotgun inside the home and the children said their father's right eye was injured when one of the pellets struck him.

When the stand-off ended, the shotgun and a military-type backpack were found in the attic with Long, according to the probable cause affidavit.

"Ian stated (to police) that he possessed firearms and he and his children were prepared to shoot it out with cops if entry was made into his home," Stille wrote in the probable cause affidavit.

Aside from ISP, a large contingent of law enforcement officers from multiple agencies including Linton PD, Worthington PD, Bloomfield PD, Jasonville PD and the Greene County Sheriff's Department, assisted at the scene.

The situation apparently started when police went to Long's residence to talk to him about a criminal mischief and intimidation allegation concerning a tire-slashing incident that happened near the rear entrance to the Greene County Daily World newspaper, located at 79 South Main St.

-- By Nick Schneider

No. 5 Sports Story: Lady Lakers win regional crown

For just the fifth time in school history, the Shakamak Lady Lakers softball squad earned a regional crown.

It also earned them the No. 5 spot in the countdown of the year's top sports stories.

Shakamak defeated visiting Bethesda Christian 8-1 on their home turf in Jasonville to claim their first regional title since 1998 and the first under head coach B.A. Shipman.

The game was a showcase for pitching and defense for Shakamak -- and a lot of frustration at the plate for the Lady Patriots.

Kelsey Samm and Laura Sue Irons, Shakamak's dynamic freshman pitching duo, combined to scatter just five hits while fanning six and walking only three.

Samm collected the win going six full frames before making way for the left-handed closer Irons.

"We didn't know what to expect," Shipman said. "We had heard their batting averages were up and so forth.

"Kelsey did a heck of a job changing speeds tonight and working the corners. Then Laura Sue came in the end and did the job."

Samm found herself in very few critical situations that warranted trouble. A twin killing in the top of the first set the tone defensively for the Lady Lakers.

She managed to work around what turned out to be a harmless single in the second, a pair of free passes in the third and a one-out double in the sixth.

The only time she struggled was in the fifth when a two-out RBI single from BC pitcher Kylie Minton was lessened by the second double play of the night turned by the Shakamak infield behind her.

Irons worked the final frame to seal the win and send the Lady Lakers into celebration mode.

Offensively the Lady Lakers did their damage to Bethesda Christian's title hopes in spurts.

A two-run double by Lacey Gilbert in the second and an RBI groundout from Makiesha Bickley staked Samm to an early 3-0 lead.

It expanded in the fourth when Shakamak benefited from a pair of BC errors and a two-run single from Martin and a wild pitch from Minton.

Their final tally came in the fifth when a leadoff double by Kelsey Pilant paid dividends on Bickley's second run-scoring effort.

This time it was an RBI single through the hole at short that left all but counting the final outs to do.

The Lady Lakers would feel heartbreak a few days later when they fell 5-4 to West Washington in the semifinals of the semistate at North Daviess High School.

- By Rick Curl

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