Prosecutor’s office has new faces

By: 
Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Print Editor
As the Washington County Prosecutor’s Office prepares to start 2018, there are several new faces who have joined the office over the past several months.
Mark Wynn is the new chief deputy while Tara Hunt is third deputy. Ben Leatherbury is working on a part-time basis in the child support division.
Prosecutor Dustin Houchin, who is starting his 11th year in office, said turnover occurred over the last few months of 2017, creating the vacancies.
Houchin said his office approaches cases in a collaborative manner. “We all work on cases as a unit, especially the larger cases.” With that said, each has an area of focus. Houchin concentrates on crimes against people, Wynn oversees cases involving property and traffic and Hunt’s area is drugs and alcohol.
Wynn came to the prosecutor’s office from private practice, but he has several years’ experience working in the Jefferson County (Madison) Prosecutor’s Office, where he served as chief deputy.
Wynn said he’s known Houchin several years and that relationship, plus the opportunity to work in a prosecutor’s office again, prompted him to accept the position.
Wynn said he enjoyed the relationships he developed with law enforcement officers and the camaraderie of working with them. He also enjoys being in the courtroom.
Wynn is a 1993 graduate of Butler University and earned his law degree from Indiana University in 1996. “There’s no position I’ve enjoyed as much as working in the prosecutor’s office, and that’s certainly been true since I’ve been here.”
Wynn tried the Joe Hambel double murder case with Houchin shortly after he started and said it made an impression. “I don’t ever recall such prepared and professional witnesses as we had. I was very impressed with local law enforcement officers and the troopers from Sellersburg in their desire to do it right and prepare for trial,” he said. “I was pleased to see that.”
Wynn and his wife, Melissa, have an 8-year-old daughter,  Emma.
Tara (Coats) Hunt is a Salem native who graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 2003. She and her husband, Chris, moved back in 2009. From 2013 through January 2016, she had a private partnership practice.
Hunt has a big caseload handling drug and alcohol offenses. She both enjoys it and takes her role seriously.
“Our office has a big responsibility and important role in the criminal justice system, trying to maintain a safe community for citizens,” she said. Hunt said, despite the number of drug and alcohol cases, she still believes Washington County has lots of positive attributes. “This is a great small town to raise a family in.” She and Chris have two young sons, Gavin and Grayson.
When Hunt is attending her boys’ sporting events she keeps busy with the county bar association and as chair of the county Republican party.
Houchin said in 2016, the county council approved a part-time position for the prosecutor’s office, one he’s dedicated to child support. Leatherbury fills that role. “He handles only child support cases,” said Houchin. Leatherbury works with three child support staff members, Jan Moore, Lisa Thompson and Amelia Voyles, who are all experienced. “They’re all long-serving. They get the cases ready and Ben handles court procedures.”
Ashley Miller, Megan Cissna and Tawny Bottorff are office staff members of the prosecutor’s office. Shawna Gorman is Adult Protective Services director. The APS division includes investigator Jimmy Strange, APS Case Manager Lisa Martin and assistant Tera Chastain.
“I think our staff is as good as it’s ever been,” said Houchin. “We perform at a very high level here.”

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