Facebook leads to two witnesses in jail

Kaitlin York

They might have gotten away, had they not posted incriminating evidence on Facebook.

Ermilla Hernandez and Rachael Neas were arrested Monday on charges of each being an “accessory after the fact,” an aggravated misdemeanor, after Facebook posts made by each of them were discovered by Ames Police. Their posts indicated that both had knowledge that a public offense was committed and were aiding a suspect in an assault investigation with the intent of preventing his arrest.

Lucas Kokjohn, 19, of Clinton, was the cause for a disturbance call made to the Ames Police Department on Sunday after he attacked Carson Pettit three or four times in the head with a gun, according to Story County court documents.

When officers arrived, the victim was found suffering severe head injuries from being struck with a handgun. Officers interviewed all witnesses at the scene, including one of the defendants, Hernandez, according to court documents.

Hernandez, along with another witness, Neas, of Clinton, denied multiple times to officers that they knew the identity or any personal information about the suspect. After additional interviews, Kokjohn’s name and physical description was confirmed. 

A search warrant was completed at 436 10th Ave. in Clinton, where Kokjohn was known to be staying. A pistol matching the description of the one used in the crime was located at the residence, according to court documents.

Officers proceeded to view the Facebook profile for Kokjohn, when a post made by Hernandez and Neas was discovered. 

The posts contained information concerning the assault on Pettit.

Upon discovering the posts, Ames Police arrested Hernandez and Neas on charges of being an accessory after the fact, in the case against Kokjohn.

If one is accused of an aggravated misdemeanor, penalties include a maximum prison term of two years and a mandatory fine of at least $500 but no more than $5,000. 

The Ames Police Department won’t hesitate to utilize social networking websites to acquire information that can be used in investigations, said Jim Robinson, investigations commander for Ames Police. Because this investigation is still active, Ames Police does not wish to discuss further information.

Kokjohn has been convicted of a previous felony, an assault causing serious injury, on April 2, 2009.

Having possession of a firearm after being convicted of a felony in a state court results in the accusation of the crime for being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to court documents.

Kokjohn is being held at Story County jail with a bail set at $20,000 cash only. A preliminary hearing is set for 1 p.m. March 3 at the Story County Courthouse. The defendant is to have no contact of any kind with Carson Pettit.

As for Hernandez and Neas, they are each held at Story County Jail with a $5,000 set bail. Neas posted bail and was released Monday afternoon.

Hernandez is still being held, and a preliminary hearing is set for 1 p.m. March 3 at the Story County Courthouse.