Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Did cracks in the system lead to the murders of Carthage couple?
Winans pleaded guilty in Barton County Circuit Court March 21, 2006, to stealing a motor vehicle and was sentenced to five years in prison by Curless. At that point, the sentence was suspended and Winans was placed on supervised probation for five years.
His first probation violation was reported Nov. 3, 2006. At a hearing 11 days later, Curless continued the probation. The next violation was filed Jan. 2, 2008, and another was filed Jan. 30. No hearing was held for the first violation. The second violation appears to be his arrest on drug charges in Jasper County. Judge Richard Copeland signed off on a deal that let Winans plead guilty to a misdemeanor and sentenced Winans to one year in the county jail, then suspended the sentence and placed him on unsupervised probation for a year. After that, a probation violating hearing was held in Barton County where Curless sentenced Winans to prison for five years, but kept the case on a 120-day callback. Winans' prison stay began May 1, according to court records, and concluded Aug. 28, six weeks and two days before the Sheldons were murdered.
Winans' next probation violation was reported three days after the murder, according to court records, with two more violations reported Oct. 30 and Dec. 9. The records do not indicate that hearings were scheduled for any of the three alleged violations.
In the meantime, Jasper County Circuit Court records show Winans' "ex-spouse" asked for a child protection order to be issued May 19. During a May 27 hearing, Winans denied her allegations, but Judge Stephen Carlton issued the full order of protection. Whatever the allegations were, online records do not show that any probation violation was filed.
While authorities have charged Winans with two counts of murder, and single counts of burglary and armed criminal action, no one is examining how or why Winans slipped through the cracks in the system. Do more people have to be killed before anything will be done?