Editor's Note: This story was originally
posted 9/28/2001. On Oct. 29, Porter County Superior Court Judge
Roger Bradford approved the plea agreement including a sentence of life in
prison without possibility of parole for Reggion Dean Slater.
By KEVIN NEVERS
The man who killed Kate Pokorny will die in prison but not on the gurney.
Reggion Slater admitted at a plea hearing today that he shot Pokorny to
death on the night of Aug. 10, 1999, as she was working at the One Stop Food
Mart at Meridian Road and U.S. Highway 6.
In exchange for this admission Porter County Prosecuting Attorney James
Douglas withdrew the state’s request for the death penalty and entered an
agreement which provides for a sentence of life imprisonment without the
possibility of parole.
Slater—who had stopped at the Food Mart that summer night more than two
years to deliver donuts for American Bakery in Gary—also admitted to having
committed criminal deviate conduct and robbery.
Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford scheduled a sentencing hearing for Oct.
The plea agreement follows months of delay in the prosecution of the case,
and since Slater was charged Nov. 24, 1999, Bradford had continued the trial
three times at the request of Slater’s attorneys, public defenders Garry
Germann and Mathew Soliday.
But last week, Douglas told the Chesterton Tribune today, Germann and
Soliday approached him with the offer of a plea, and after discussions with
Pokorny’s parents, Clare and Frank, he agreed to accept that offer. “The
family was adamant and of course the state was adamant that this fellow be
imprisoned for the rest of his life. That was our number one goal.”
Clare Pokorny said this morning that the plea agreement has one virtue only:
Slater will harm no one again. “This is the only solution. It wasn’t a good
solution. But it was the only solution.”
But the plea agreement will bring no real healing. “It’s the beginning of
the end of this,” Clare Pokorny said. “But our position has never changed.
We’ve lost our daughter. He will never hurt anyone else. He won’t do it
again. That’s the good part. But relief? No.”
Det. Sgt. Jerry Kratowicz of the Porter County Sheriff’s Police, the lead
investigator in the Pokorny case, said that he is happy enough to avoid a
trial—“although we were totally prepared”—if only because a conviction would
have been the first step in a legal process likely to have resulted in one
appeal after another. “We will be sure of one thing. He’ll never see the
light of day as a free man.”
One by one, Douglas said, Slater stipulated to the facts of the case in
court today. But he showed no remorse and offered no account of his actions.
And he probably could offer no account beyond a desire to eliminate the sole
witness. “This was not a long planned out operation,” Douglas ventured. “It
was a spur of the moment thing. He had a thought and he proceeded to carry
it out. This girl knew him. And he made up his mind to kill her. Otherwise
he’d have been identified. Period.”
“If he ever had gotten out of jail,” Douglas added, “he’d very likely have
done it again. So it was very important to keep him in jail for the rest of
Slater, 33, served nine years in an Arkansas prison for two aggravated
robberies committed in 1989. He was paroled in 1998 and that parole was
subsequently transferred to Lake County, where his mother lived.
Slater netted $100 and a bag of loose change in the robbery.
Kate Pokorny was 18 when she died. A four letter athlete at Chesterton High
School and the recipient of the 1998 Mental Attitude Award voted to her by
her teammates on the girl’s varsity soccer team, Pokorny had graduated from
CHS only two months before and was only days away from enrolling at Purdue
University to study meteorology.