Two drug operation defendants sentenced while a third skips sentencing hearing

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Mary Elizabeth Helsley, 45, Greenfield

HANCOCK COUNTY — Two of three people linked to a drug operation in the area in the spring of 2022 had their cases settled via plea agreements earlier this week while a third person tied to the crime was a no-show.

Mary Elizabeth Helsley, 45, Greenfield, and James Edward Shearer, 38, Greenfield, had their cases closed Monday in Hancock County Superior Court 1 where Magistrate Cody Coombs handed down the sentences. A third person involved in their case, Christopher Daniel Mize, 37, Indianapolis was supposed to have his case closed at the same time, however, he did not cooperate with a pre-sentence investigation and did not show up for the sentencing. A warrant his been issued for his arrest, court records state.

Helsley and Mize were facing seven different crimes each, including four different Level 2 felony charges of manufacturing and dealing illegal drugs. Shearer was facing 13 crimes in all, including six different Level 2 felony charges of manufacturing and dealing drugs. The most serious charges against the three — the Level 2 felony crimes — carried up to 30 years in prison.

Helsley’s plea deal called for her to plead guilty to a lesser Level 5 felony count of dealing methamphetamine. She was given a five-year term with three years to be executed in the Indiana Department of Corrections and two years suspended. She is also to take part in a Recovery While Incarcerated program that, once finished, allows her to ask for a sentence modification. All the other charges against her were dismissed. She was also given 379 days of jail credit.

Shearer’s plea agreement called for him to plead guilty to the Level 2 felony crime of dealing methamphetamine. He was given a 16-year term with 12 years to be served at the Indiana Department of Corrections and four years suspended. All the other charges against him were dismissed, and he was given 437 days of jail credit.

As for Mize’s plea deal, which he signed back in April, the paperwork called for him to plead guilty to a Level 2 felony crime of dealing methamphetamine. He was also to be given a 16-year term with 12 years served in the Indiana Department of Corrections and four years suspended with all other charges dropped. However, those terms may change after his “no-show” in court earlier this week.

Between text messages, phone calls, statements, cash app records, and GPS locations, officials believe the three, along with two others — Diana Marie Holbrook, 45, Greenfield, and Amanda Jane Zurwell, 46, Indianapolis — were involved with illegal drug activity involving methamphetamine and fentanyl in the county, officials said.

In an affidavit, Helsley was listed as one of the four people who overdosed on the night of March 1, 2022. Sheriff’s officials were called to CR North 150W, where a female later identified as Helsley was on the floor unconscious, the affidavit said. Holbrook was also at the scene.

Officials interviewed Helsley about her overdose, and she told officials she and Holbrook had ingested illegal drugs and admitted to selling drugs to a man officials saved on March 1, 2022 the affidavit said. Information was also obtained on Mize and Zurwell, who officials learned were dealing to multiple people in the county out of Marion County, the affidavit said.

Officials were able to find information on Helsley’s cell phone indicating illegal drug activity, including her selling illegal drugs, the affidavit said.

Due to the connection discovered to Shearer, who was arrested in early March of 2022, officials started monitoring his phone calls from the county jail, the affidavit said. They noticed several inmates were contacting Holbrook, who officials said in the report supplied Shearer and Helsley with illegal drugs.

Holbrook’s case is set to be settled via a change of plea agreement in late June while Zurwell had her case settled in April. Zurwell is serving a four-year term where two of the years were suspended.