Father’s attorney seeks contempt order in Levi Evans case
CROWN POINT | The father of a Lake Central High School student found dead on school property is seeking a court hearing on whether St. John police and the Lake County coroner should be held in contempt for not providing additional information.
Levi Evans, 17, was found dead Aug. 8 with no apparent sign of foul play or trauma, according to officials involved in the case.
Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey initially informed St. John police and Levi’s parents that he died of natural causes from a heart disorder. Earlier this month Frey announced her office was reopening the case based on new information. A final determination remains pending.
A petition filed Wednesday in Lake Superior Court in Hammond states attorneys for the boy’s father, Levi Evans Sr., are seeking a contempt order and sanctions against officials for not timely responding to subpoenas on the matter.
Filed by Dyer attorney Andrew Crosmer, the petition alleges the “unfounded delay by the St. John Police Department and the Lake County Coroner” has prohibited the boy’s estate from moving forward with its investigation into the cause of death. The inaction also has prohibited personal closure and incurred storage costs to the funeral home, the petition states.
The boy’s body has been cremated as sought by the boy’s mother through court action, according to the boy’s grandmother, Ann Simms, of Merrillville.
The petition alleges St. John police have not provided copies of the police investigation report, statements of witnesses, photographs, video and other requested information.
Legal counsel for the Police Department denied the request Oct. 1 because the case continues to be investigated and the records sought are investigatory in nature, the petition states.
The department’s counsel subsequently denied requests, stating the autopsy and coroner’s reports were not concluded.
Requests for copies of police reports and a surveillance videotape viewed by The Times have gone unanswered, according to the petition.
“I have no comment on the matter,” Crown Point attorney David Austgen said Thursday. Austgen represents St. John police.
The petition also cites the Lake County coroner’s office, alleging Frey denied requests for reports on the coroner’s investigation, including copies of photographs and videos taken or obtained during the autopsy.
On Thursday, Frey said she’s released autopsy and toxicology reports to both parents and their attorneys as required under state law.
Frey said she consulted with Lake County attorney John Dull, who advised her to direct attorneys to seek a court order for additional information.
“I am not in contempt of court because there has not been a court order,” Frey said. “I did receive a subpoena. However, John Dull states that is not sufficient.”
Dull confirmed he believes the release of additional information must be court-ordered.