Change of plea hearing delayed in attempted murder case

A change of prosecutors will postpone legal proceedings against a local man accused of the attempted murder of a police officer, as well as other charges.

Jacob D. Rice, 40, was scheduled for a change of plea hearing Monday. However, public defender Chris Monroe informed Special Judge Kim Van Valer that deputy prosecutor Sara Laska is replacing Joshua Scherschel in handling the state’s case.

Both Monroe and Laska asked the judge for additional time for the prosecution to prepare her case. In response, Van Valer ordered a pre-trial conference or a change of plea hearing be scheduled for Thursday, June 9 at 3:45 p.m.

The defendant remains incarcerated in the Bartholomew County Jail while his case moves through the judicial system.

Rice is accused of firing a handgun at Columbus Police Sgt. Lukas Nibarger on June 27, 2021 as the officer was investigating suspicious activity in the 3300 block of Grove Parkway. While the officer was not hurt, Rice was hospitalized for a gunshot wound after the incident.

Besides attempted murder as a Level 1 felony, Rich is charged with criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon as a Level 6 felony and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon as a Level 4 felony.

The defendant is also accused of stealing the handgun involved in the Grove Parkway incident, as well as a bicycle, shortly before the shooting. Both are Level 6 felony counts of theft, court records state.