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Order restricts guns, alcohol in judge's home

January 30, 2009

Special Judge Walter Chapala issued an order this week requiring all firearms be removed from the home of a LaPorte Superior judge who was shot last month in her home. On Jan. 27, Judge Chapala ordered Judge Jennifer Evans and her husband, Stephan Koethe, to remove any firearms from their home as well as to abstain from drinking alcohol immediately prior to or during any times that Koethe's children from a previous marriage may be in their care. The order also applies to Koethe's ex-wife, Megan Koethe.

Megan had filed a petition for appointment of Guardian Ad Litem and suspension of parenting time or enforcement of Indiana parenting time guidelines. Judge Chapala didn't modify the custody and parenting time rights of the parties, but did require them to participate in a parenting time evaluation to be submitted to the court for possible modification.

Judge Evans suffered a gunshot wound to the head in her home in late December 2008 and was hospitalized following the incident. Stephan Koethe told a LaPorte television station that the judge shot herself accidentally while handling a gun she thought was empty. The bullet grazed her head; the judge recovered and took the bench earlier this year. The investigation into the incident is still ongoing, said St. Joseph County Prosecutor spokeswoman Catherine Wilson. The St. Joseph County Prosecutor is involved in the investigation to avoid any conflict of interest since Judge Evans had worked in the LaPorte County Prosecutor's office.

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