Latest Indiana news, sports, business and entertainment


Life without parole at stake in Indianapolis explosion case

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — An Indianapolis man convicted in a home explosion that gutted a subdivision and killed two neighbors is back in court for a hearing on whether he should face a sentence of life without parole.

St. Joseph County Superior Court Judge John Marnocha is hearing arguments a day after a jury convicted 46-year-old Mark Leonard of murder, arson and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.

Leonard waived his right to have the jury decide whether to recommend the sentence of life without parole on the two counts of murder in the deaths of John "Dion" Longworth and his wife, Jennifer.

Defense attorneys have filed a motion to have a sentence of life without parole dismissed because they don't believe prosecutors have proven the necessary aggravating factors.


Conservative leader urges defeat of gay protection proposals

(Information in the following story is from: The Elkhart Truth,

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — A prominent conservative lobbyist is working to defeat proposals in two northern Indiana cities for anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Advance America executive director Eric Miller was a leading supporter of Indiana's religious objection law. He told about 100 people at an Elkhart church Tuesday that defeat of the Elkhart and Goshen proposals would hurt a push for similar statewide sexual orientation protections.

The Elkhart Truth reports Miller urged emails and phone calls to city council members to voice opposition.

The Goshen City Council could debate the proposal July 21, while the Elkhart City Council likely won't take it up until next month.

Mayors Dick Moore of Elkhart and Allan Kauffman of Goshen say the broader protections would present their cities as welcoming communities.


Amazon plans to hire 2,100 workers at Indiana facilities

(Information in the following story is from: The Indianapolis Star,

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Amazon says it plans to add 2,100 workers at its locations in Indiana as it looks to hire more employees across the country.

The Indianapolis Star reports the company announced plans Tuesday to add to its 7,000 workers currently in Indiana. Amazon plans to bring on 1,400 new workers at central Indiana fulfillment centers in Indianapolis, Plainfield, and Whitestown, as well as an additional 700 workers at its Jeffersonville location in southern Indiana.

Amazon spokeswoman Nina Lindsey says the company is also hiring elsewhere due to global demand for products. She says the company plans to add workers immediately.

The newspaper reports incentives for the new jobs are being negotiated by the Indiana Economic Development Corp.


Indianapolis, suburbs form regional development authority

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis is joining Carmel, Westfield and Greenwood in an economic development group that will seek millions of dollars in state grants.

The Indianapolis Business Journal reports the Indianapolis City-County Council voted Monday to partner with the three suburban cities to form a regional development authority that would apply for state funds through the Regional Cities Initiative. The new program allows the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to award grants or loans to regional groups for projects that could help attract new businesses and residents. Legislators allocated $84 million for the program over the next two years.

The central Indiana group is expected to pursue funding for a 35-mile bus line that would stretch from Westfield north of Indianapolis to Greenwood south of the capital city.


Indiana man pleads not guilty in killing, kidnapping

(Information in the following story is from: The Herald Bulletin,

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana man has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from accusations that he killed another man at his estranged wife's house and then forced her and three children to flee with him.

The Herald Bulletin reports 26-year-old Mark Emerson of Anderson entered his plea Monday during an initial video hearing. He faces a murder charge in the death of 25-year-old Cody Gay of Indianapolis, as well as kidnapping and auto theft charges.

Police in Hermantown, Minnesota, say they arrested Emerson in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart last month. Authorities believe he was trying to flee to Canada, and made his wife and the three kids join.

Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger says Emerson was extradited from Minnesota to Indiana on Monday.

A message seeking comment was left with an attorney listed as representing Emerson.


2 tornadoes confirmed after strong Indiana storms

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — The National Weather Service confirms that two tornadoes touched down in west-central Indiana when strong storms moved through the state late Monday and early Tuesday.

The first tornado was 18 miles west of Lafayette near Pine Village. It was an EF0 rating with an estimated top wind speed of 70 mph. It traveled about a tenth of a mile and was 50 yards wide. Weather service officials say it touched down in a corn field about 9:15 p.m. Monday and damaged crops.

The second tornado was northeast of Greencastle in Putnam county. It ranked an EF1 with wind speeds of 90 mph and also traveled about a tenth of a mile and was 50 yards wide. It touched down about 9:26 p.m. Monday and developed from a thunderstorm.


Wildlife agency: Officers chase off bear in northern Indiana

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (AP) — Wildlife officials say law enforcement officers chased a black bear from a residential area in northern Indiana after residents reported it was walking on porches and standing against patio doors.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources said in a news release that several Michigan City residents also reported a bear going through trash and birdfeeders in the area Tuesday evening. Michigan City and Indiana State Police officers found the bear in a home's backyard and yelled at it, and it walked off into a wooded area.

The bear was spotted again later, and officers yelled at it and chased it into some woods before it disappeared.

According to state wildlife officials, Indiana had its first confirmed presence of a wild black bear in more than 140 years after a bear was spotted in St. Joseph County last month.


Open house set at army center named for Indiana veteran

(Information in the following story is from: Journal and Courier,

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An open house is planned this weekend at a new army reserve training facility that was named for a Brookstone native who died in Iraq.

The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier reports that the Spc. Luke P. Frist Army Reserve Center at Fort Benjamin Harrison will host the event this Saturday. The facility opened in May.

Frist served in Iraq with the Lafayette-based 209th Quartermaster Company. He died in 2004 after he was severely burned when his vehicle was struck by an explosive device.

The 126,000-square-foot center houses classes, vehicle maintenance and storage facilities.

Frist's mother, Patti Frist, founded a Lafayette chapter of Gold Star Mothers. His father has said Frist joined the military "out of patriotism, the passion for discipline, and the comradery of being part of a team."


Ex-Rep. Crawford, retired firefighter get Black Expo Awards

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mike Pence has honored former state Rep. Bill Crawford of Indianapolis and Fort Wayne's first female firefighter among eight others at Indiana Black Expo's Summer Celebration in Indianapolis.

Crawford received the Rev. Charles Williams Community Service Award during Black Expo's Governor's Reception Tuesday. A Democrat, he served 40 years in the Indiana House and chaired the Ways and Means Committee before retiring in 2012.

Retired firefighter Genois Wilson Brabson of Fort Wayne received the Sam Jones Trailblazer Award. She rose to become a district chief.

The Governor's Award for Achievement in Entrepreneurship went to Gil Michel, the CEO and president of Caleb Group, Inc., a South Bend small business solutions company. He also formed a financial literacy program to teach teens about business, real estate, banking and other topics.