Man pleads guilty to felonies after pursuit with kids in vehicle

A father was sentenced to more than a year on work release after pleading guilty to multiple felonies after he fled from police with his children in the car.

Joseph L. McKenney, 26, of Indianapolis, pleaded guilty to two counts of neglect, domestic battery and resisting law enforcement — all felonies — and a misdemeanor count of theft, according to court records. Another misdemeanor charge of failure to stop at an accident was dismissed.

He was sentenced to more than a year on probation, with a condition of his sentence that he serve that time in the work release program, Johnson County Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Bland said.

Work release is a program run by Johnson County Community Corrections, where offenders are allowed to go to work with electronic monitoring, and then return to the facility.

In July, McKenney led police on a chase near State Road 135 and Fairview Road when he refused to stop for police in a traffic stop.

The chase ended about a half-mile away when McKenney ran and police found two crying children who had been in the car. The children’s mother had fallen out of the car right before the pursuit began when she tried to get away from McKenney and he sped off, according to police reports.

McKenney had told the children, who were 4 and 7 at the time, that he might be going to jail and then ran into the nearby Carefree neighborhood, where he was spotted by officers but got away again, police reports said.

For two days, police searched for McKenney, who the children and the children’s mother identified as the driver.

After he was arrested, he was held in the Johnson County jail for more than five months, which also was credited to his total sentence.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2718.