Chesterton Tribune

Kate Pokorny's killer pleads guilty, gets life without parole

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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. 29.

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 his life.”

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.

 

 

Posted 9/28/2001