Chesterton Tribune



Porter woman pleads guilty to fatal shooting of ex-husband in 2011

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A Porter woman who fatally shot her ex-husband in 2011 would spend no time in jail under a plea agreement reached last week with the Porter County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Beverly Mitchell, 47, told investigators that she shot Donald Crouse, 45, in self-defense with a 20-gauge shotgun, after he’d become physically abusive while staying with her at her home on Michigami Trail on Sept. 14, 2011.

Crouse died a week later in hospital of respiratory arrest and kidney failure related to the shooting.

Mitchell was subsequently charged with aggravated battery, a Class B felony punishable by a term of six to 20 years; battery and criminal recklessness, both Class C felonies punishable by a term of two to eight years; and pointing a firearm, a Class D felony punishable by a term of six months to three years.

On Dec. 22 Mitchell agreed to plead guilty to one of the Class C counts, battery, in exchange for which the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has agreed to dismiss the other three counts.

Also stipulated by the agreement: Mitchell’s “placement in community corrections, instead of any jail sentence.” The state and the defense would argue the length of time which Mitchell would serve in community corrections, for up to eight years, the maximum term of any Class C felony.

A sentencing hearing before Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 2.

According to Porter Police, officers responded to Mitchell’s home at 4:18 a.m. Sept. 14, 2011, after she had run to a neighbor’s residence, still carrying the shotgun. Her first words to officers: “Police, police, I just shot him, I just shot him.”

Mitchell later advised investigators that Crouse had arrived at her home the day before, on Sept. 13, that she and Crouse had consumed alcohol, and that at some point Crouse became verbally, then physically, abusive.

“Mitchell stated that (Crouse) hit her numerous times and kept pushing her into the empty bathtub,” the PPD said. “MItchell indicated that she wanted to leave the house but that he would not let her go.”

Mitchell also advised investigators that she warned Crouse “she would shoot him if he did not stop his aggression” but that “he ignored her warnings.”

After telling Crouse that she was taking the shotgun’s safety off, and Crouse’s continued refusal to “leave her alone,” she fired a single round at him, Mitchell stated.

Crouse was found on a couch with a shotgun wound to his upper chest and a single spent shell next to the couch.

Mitchell, for her part, had sustained “injuries to her hands, scratches,” police said.


Posted 12/29/2014





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