GREENFIELD, Ind. -- For the second year in a row, Hancock County’s public defender fund is on track to be depleted early.
Officials say attorneys in Greenfield are increasingly defending Indianapolis residents committing crimes in their county.
Captain Jeff Rasche says earlier this morning, Hancock County sheriff's deputies caught an Indianapolis man burglarizing a home. A couple hours later, the suspect admitted to burglarizing several other houses in the county.
This, county officials believe, is the latest example of Indianapolis residents draining their public defender fund.
“So far this year, and this is as of the 6th of April, it looks like we have 56 percent of our felony budget,” said Hancock County public defender board chairman John Apple.
If that pace keeps up, the Hancock County public defender board will be out of money by mid-July. Last year Apple had to request $90,000 to fill the gap.
“I would foresee that we’ll probably be asking for money again,” said Apple.
John Apple says lately his public defender colleagues are defending more people with Indianapolis addresses in high-profile cases, including murder, drug and burglary.
“It’s about where the crime is committed, so we certainly can’t control that,” said Apple. “The one case that we had, that we had three years ago, it literally happened on the Hancock county side of the county line.”
In that case, three people, all living in Indianapolis, murdered a woman in a Hancock County cornfield. That cost the county’s public defender fund thousands of dollars in 2015 they didn’t have.
“You have to pay,” Apple said. “The constitution says the right to counsel and all that, so we, the police department, sheriff’s department as well have to put in those extra hours.”
But Apple says, like last year, his colleagues may not get paid right away for their sixth amendment work several months down the road.
Apple tries not to ask council for more money until he knows he needs it, just in case Marion County criminals decide to start committing crimes on their side of the county line.
It’s an almost impossible juggling act.
“That’s the difficulty in this part of it,” said Apple. “How do you know? If I knew what kinds of things are going to come, I would certainly continue to budget that way. But I don’t know.”