Judge Kim Hall accepted a guilty plea from Benton Christopher Howard, 43, to a charge of battery as a level five felony. He was originally charged with attempted murder, as victim Brandon Davidson’s heart and lung were both damaged. Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff told the judge some of the witnesses lack credibility because they initially lied to the police about what happened, even though their present account of things is favorable to the victim. Even the stipulations filed by Howard’s attorneys outlining what happened contain conflicting witness accounts of the events.
Davidson was brought to court from jail for the proceeding. His father, Samuel Ray Allen, spoke on his behalf and asked the judge to accept Howard’s plea of guilty to battery. Allen told the judge, “I think he needs a break. I know he messed up.”
Judge Hall sentenced Howard to the maximum six years for a level five felony. The first two years are to be served in the Indiana Department of Corrections, with credit for time served in the Starke County Jail. The next two years will be on home detention with electronic monitoring, subject to acceptance in a program. Once that is complete, the final two years will be served on probation. Howard is not to have contact with Davidson and was court ordered to pay nearly $60,000 in medical bills along with court costs.