Split Decision: Two guilty, two not guilty verdicts in Lonas trial

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Kirk Dale Lonas is escorted from court by officials with the Hancock County Jail earlier this week. He was found guilty on two of four molest charges late Friday night.

HANCOCK COUNTY – The jury in the Kirk Dale Lonas child molest case rendered a decision shortly after 8 p.m. Friday night.

The eight men and four women found Lonas not guilty of two counts of Level 1 felony child molest but guilty on two lesser Level 4 felony molest charges.

Level 4 crimes carry anywhere from 2 to 12 years in prison.

The Hancock County Circuit Court jury got the case around 2 p.m. Friday afternoon and deliberated for over six hours before reaching a decision.

Judge Scott Sirk read the verdict shortly after 8:30 p.m. Lonas sat at the defense table motionless but huddled with his public defenders including chief public defender Jeremy Teipen for several minutes following the announcement.

Prosecutor Brent Eaton noted the case against Lonas was a difficult one but that he’s proud of the efforts put forth by his team, including chief deputy prosecutor Aimee Herring.

“I’m very pleased with the effort it took to get this case over the finish line,” Eaton said shortly after the verdict was read.

He stated the incidents Lonas was accused of happened well over three years ago making it difficult for the victims who are young teenagers.

“That’s a really long time,” Eaton said. “That was almost 25% of the life of the victims who testified.”

Sirk noted Lonas is to be sentenced Thursday, August 24 in his courtroom. Lonas will be held in the Hancock County Jail until that time.

Lonas had been accused and charged with molesting two county children who were 12 years old at the time officials said the incidents started back in 2019 and lasted through 2020.

The Daily Reporter reached out to Teipen for a comment on the verdict, but he noted he had several calls to make Friday night and would need to talk with the paper early next week.

You can see more details about the week long trial leading up to the verdict in Saturday’s edition of the Daily Reporter including information on the final day of testimony from Lonas Friday morning as well as comments on closing arguments.