Porter County man sentenced in standoff with police
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent October 19, 2012 6:26PM
Updated: November 21, 2012 6:11AM
VALPARAISO — To have a guilty verdict against his client dismissed at sentencing, Porter County Assistant Public Defender Peter Boyles raised the issue of a recent Indiana law that allows citizens to defend their homes against police.
However, Porter Superior Judge William Alexa denied the motion to correct and sentenced Christopher Battishill, 39, to a two-year prison sentence on Friday.
Boyles argued that although the jury found Battishill guilty of the highest of eight charges against him — Class C felony intimidation — intimidation’s definition includes a “prior lawful act.”
“Threats made during an altercation are not intimidation as there are no prior lawful acts,” Boyles said.
The incident happened shortly after the Indiana State Legislature passed a law allowing citizens to defend their homes against some police intrusions after a state Supreme Court decision had ruled otherwise.
Police went to Battishill’s Old East Chicago Road home on March 31 for a welfare check after Battishill’s mother called because he wasn’t taking his medication and made threats.
Police testified during the trial that Battishill ran outside, rambling, then barricaded himself in the house with a samurai sword and told them that if they came in, they’d have to kill him because he would try to kill them.
Alexa had ordered psychiatric evaluations on Battishill shortly after his arrest to see if he was competent to stand trial, and the two therapists were split, but a third said yes.
A jury found Battishill guilty of Class C felony intimidation and Class B misdemeanor disorderly conduct on Sept. 20.
Alexa sentenced him to two years on probation and two years in prison, the mandatory minimum, because of his criminal history, plus 180 days for the misdemeanor, to be served concurrently.
Battishill already served 198 days in Porter County Jail and must have mental health and substance abuse evaluations.
He represented himself in the trial, although Boyles was there to do the closing argument.
“If he hadn’t given that closing argument, you would’ve been convicted of every count,” Alexa said. “And if he would’ve been involved in the defense, you never would’ve been convicted of the first count.”
Battishill said he intends to appeal and asked that Boyles be appointed as public defender He said he could use his own competency as bad representation for appeal.