In case you missed it – December 17

Murder charges dropped in deal

GREENFIELD — Prosecutors agreed to drop murder charges Monday against a Pendleton man accused of dumping a friend’s dead body along a county road, offering the defendant a plea deal for two lower-level felonies and a misdemeanor in exchange for his testimony against a second man charged in the crime.

Shawn Hammons, 40, Pendleton, agreed Monday to serve a 39-year sentence for planning the drug deal that resulted in the death of Shannon Kitchens, 55, of McCordsville and moving Kitchens’ body after he’d been shot, records show.

Kitchens’ body was found in 3300 block of West County Road 500N on March 1. He died of a single gunshot wound, police said.

The agreement, which is pending approval by a judge, calls for Hammons to serve a 39-year sentence, dividing his punishment between 20 years in prison and 19 years on probation, provided he testify against another man charged in the murder — Damian Coleman, 40, 11303 Lynchburg Way, Indianapolis.

State releases school grades

HANCOCK COUNTY — Three Hancock County schools now are considered A-rated by new state ranking standards, down from 14 last year, state data shows.

The Indiana Department of Education this week released new accountability ratings for Hoosier schools that showed a statewide decline in the number of schools that received the highest mark based on performance during the 2015-16 school year. Locally, 11 schools that were previously A-rated under an easier version of ISTEP fell to either a B or C.

Accountability grades present a snapshot of how schools perform and are tied to whether teachers receive stipends and bonuses.

In Hancock County, three schools receive A ratings: Doe Creek Middle School, Eden Elementary School and Eastern Hancock Middle School. Twelve schools received a B, five schools earned Cs and one school received a D. No Hancock County schools received an F-rating.

County slips, slides into winter

HANCOCK COUNTY — Storms dumped at least 4 inches of snow on central Indiana on Tuesday, causing more than 70 calls to 911 reporting crashes, slide-offs and disabled vehicles in Hancock County, the majority being along Interstate 70, before noon, officials said.

All lanes of westbound traffic on the interstate from State Road 9 to State Road 109 were closed for more than three hours Tuesday morning while crews worked to pull cars out of snow-covered ditches. Crashes also slowed eastbound I-70 traffic from the State Road 9 exit to Mount Comfort Road.

Some injuries were reported, but none were life-threatening, according to Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine. In all, more than 40 accidents, the bulk of which were on I-70, were reported by noon, said John Jokantas, director of the county’s dispatch center.