Chesterton Tribune



Burns Harbor man gets prison time in connection with fatal altercation at Shift Change

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A Burns Harbor man who admitted punching his friend in the jaw--a blow which caused the man to fall to the ground in the parking lot of the Shift Change Tap and suffer a fatal brain hemorrhage--has been sentenced to one year in prison.

Christopher Glenn Rogers, 50, with a listed address of 1167 Rak Road, was sentenced on Tuesday to four years in the Indiana Department of Correction, with all but one year suspended and the balance to be served on formal probation, after he pleaded guilty to reckless homicide, a Class C felony punishable by a term of two to eight years.

In exchange for Rogers’ plea, the original four charges--the most serious of them, aggravated battery, a Class B felony punishable by a term of eight to 20 years--were dismissed.

In her sentencing order, Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper made note of two mitigating factors: that Rogers was “law abiding for a substantial time prior to the crime and has a very minimal criminal history,” namely, a 25-year-old OWI conviction; and that incarceration will prove a “hardship” to his wife, as Rogers is her “sole support.”

There were no aggravating factors.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed by the Burns Harbor Police Department, at 4:48 p.m. Feb. 18, 2014, Rogers, his wife, and two friends, one of them Rodney T. Owen, were drinking at the Shift Change when Rogers and Owen exchanged words. Witnesses advised police that Rogers left the bar to sit in his truck and listen to music and, sometime later, was actually leaving the business on foot when Owen confronted him in the parking lot and “pushed” him. Rogers responded by punching Owen once, causing him to fall to the ground and hit the back of his head.

A witness “advised that he saw Rogers punch Owen but that it was not a fight,” police said. The witness “advised that it was a ‘one-punch thing.’ (The witness) advised that Rogers was not the aggressor but he could not say how (Owen) was the aggressor either. . . . (The witness) said that Owen pushed Rogers and Rogers hit Owen.”

Owen was transported to Porter Regional Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery to treat “two separate skull fractures with brain bleeding,” police said. He never, however, regained consciousness.

“While en route to the Porter County Jail,” police said, “Rogers uttered on several occasions ‘He (Owen) is my friend, I didn’t mean for this to happen.”


Posted 10/30/2015




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