The Ottumwa Courier

May 14, 2014

Judge rejects change in jail status request

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — A handwritten letter in a court file illustrates the difference between a judge’s focus in the courtroom and what happens to a person charged with a crime outside the courthouse.

Adem Anota is charged with kidnapping. Court documents show he is accused of confining a woman to his apartment “by threatening to kill her and her family if she left.” He allegedly used the same threat to sexually assault her during that time.

The letter in Anota’s file wasn’t written by him but by an unknown inmate on his behalf. It says Anota has been confined under maximum security conditions since his arrest. Those conditions, according to the letter, restrict his ability to communicate with family members in Minnesota and children he has in Africa.

The writer said Anota has repeatedly requested transfer to the general population in the Wapello County Jail but has been denied on the basis of the severity of the charges. It asked the court to intervene.

Judge Myron Gookin declined to do so. His response said the complaints “relate to jail administration issues rather than substantive legal or procedural issues.” Those, Gookin wrote, are the purview of the jail administrator.

Anota’s trial, which had been slated to begin this month, has been pushed back to Aug. 5. The kidnapping charge is a Class A felony — one of the few which carry an automatic life sentence upon conviction.

In other cases:

• Christopher Jordan’s trial on charges of arson and insurance fraud has been pushed back. Trial had been scheduled for July 1 but will now begin in early September.

• Charges of ongoing criminal conduct against James Deevers were dismissed as part of a plea bargain that saw him plead guilty to burglary and theft. He received a five-year suspended sentence for each of those counts, to run concurrently.

• Kyle Davis received a 10-year sentence with credit for time served on a theft charge as part of a plea bargain.

• Todd Sexton has a plea hearing set for May 21 on charges of theft and burglary.

• Matthew Hughes, charged with multiple controlled substance violations, has pleaded not guilty and will go on trial in October.