A judge Tuesday declined to reinstate bond for a man who pleaded guilty in July to neglecting a 2-year-old girl who died.
Shane A. Patton, 32, admitted July 26 to neglecting the girl – the daughter of his then-girlfriend, Crystal Belcher – and other children. He faced up to 16 years in prison as part of a plea agreement.
Defense attorney Robert Gevers said his client “had second thoughts” about the admission and could take back the plea. Police have accused Patton of wanting to flee to Canada or Nebraska to avoid jail time.
Patton had been free on bond at the time, and his bond was revoked last month after a police detective said Patton told a woman he “had no intentions of going to court.” Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull denied Gevers' request to reinstate bond, and a sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 27.
“The court would find by clear and convincing evidence that you are a flight risk,” Gull told Patton.
Gevers, who was appointed to represent Patton after another attorney withdrew from the case, said in court he is gathering information including a transcript of the hearing in which his client pleaded guilty. Prosecutors said the issue of whether Patton will take back his guilty plea could still be raised.
Jocelyn “JoJo” Belcher was found dead Jan. 27, 2018, in the family's East Butler Street home. She was wrapped tightly in a blanket, and the cause of death was neck compression.
Investigators said the girl had injuries – fractures that had healed – that were consistent with abuse.
Patton pleaded guilty to two counts of felony neglect, and the plea deal with prosecutors calls for a third, more serious count to be dismissed. If he takes back the plea, he would forfeit that and face up to 40 years behind bars if he is convicted on the third count.
Belcher, 30, pleaded guilty to two counts of felony neglect and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Patton's wife, Trista Patton, testified Tuesday that her husband did not plan to flee.
“Absolutely not,” she said. “He never said anything about running – ever.”
But Amanda McCloud – the woman who told police Patton planned to run – disagreed and testified he did say he would leave the area. Fort Wayne Police Detective Roy Sutphin confirmed McCloud's allegations.
Patton appeared in court for a hearing July 30, after a warrant was issued for his arrest, and was taken into police custody. Gevers questioned Tuesday whether Patton was aware a warrant had been issued.
Patton did not speak, except to talk with his attorney.