Court dates reset for Jeremy Sweet, accused of neglect of a dependent causing death involving his 2-year-old daughter

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Another continuance was granted in the case of a local man accused of Level 1 felony neglect of a dependent resulting in the death of his 2-year-old daughter during Thanksgiving weekend in 2021.

Jeremy W. Sweet, 4o, of 1415 N. County Road 850E, is accused in the death of his daughter, Emma Sweet, after his truck was found in the East Fork White River and the girl was reported missing.

Charges include neglect of a dependent resulting in death as a Level 1 felony and unlawful possession of syringe as a Level 6 felony. A Level 1 felony conviction carries up to 40 years in prison, while years is the the maximum for a Level 6 felony.

About 10 people sat together in Bartholomew Superior Court 1 Monday behind Bartholomew County Prosecutor Lindsey Holden-Kay during what was scheduled to be a change of plea hearing.

However, defense attorney Andrew C. Maternowski asked that the matter be postponed for the fourth time. Maternowski was retained by Sweet last May, replacing public defender Aaron Edwards.

He told the judge the case is still active in the discovery phase. Besides the state and defense exchanging information, discovery might mean interviewing witnesses, gathering physical evidence, examining computer files, speaking with expert witnesses, reviewing police reports and going over witness statements.

After Holden-Kay did not object, Judge James Worton scheduled a new change of plea hearing for June 26 at 10:30 a.m., a final pre-trial conference on July 10 at 11 a.m., and a tentative jury trial to begin at 8:30 a.m. on July 18.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Sweet is accused of driving his truck off a 15-to-20 foot embankment in the 1700 block of Blessing Road into East Fork White River on or about Nov. 24, 2021. His daughter was buckled into her child safety seat as the cab became submerged in about 3- to 5-feet of water, the affidavit states.

Sweet initially told investigators he dropped his daughter off at a convenience store. But court documents state the defendant later admitted using methamphetamine and marijuana hours before he decided to go four-wheeling in a dark farm field. The defendant told police he had gotten lost before the truck went over the embankment.

The defendant said he had unbuckled Emma and placed her on either the roof or hood before “losing her” at some point, the affidavit states. He was found asleep inside the truck’s cab when four duck hunters found the pickup on Friday, Nov. 26. During a search, first respondents located a syringe and an empty corner cut baggie (drug paraphernalia) on Sweet’s person, the affidavit states.

Photo provided Divers searched the East Fork White River over the Thanksgiving Day weekend in 2021 in the area surrounding Jeremy Sweet’s submerged F-150 truck to try to locate his missing 2-year-old daughter Emma, whose body was found in a debris field in the river about 2 1/2 miles downstream.

The little girl’s body was found on Sunday, Nov. 28, about miles downstream from where the submerged truck was found. An autopsy was unable to determine whether Emma died of hypothermia or drowning, according to court documents. Since then, her father has remained in the Bartholomew County Jail in lieu of $1.2 million bond.