Chesterton Tribune



Porter woman sentenced to probation in fatal shooting of ex-husband in 2011

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The Porter woman who fatally shot her ex-husband in 2011 will see no jail time after pleading guilty to one count of battery.

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.

Mitchell was subsequently charged with aggravated battery, a Class B felony punishable by 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.

Last week, Mitchell was sentenced to four years in the Indiana Department of Correction on the Class C battery count, with the whole of the term suspended but for time served. Those four years Mitchell will serve instead on formal probation.

As an additional condition of probation, Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford ordered Mitchell to participate in the Day Reporting Program, a sentence enhancement.

As part of the plea agreement, the other three charges filed against Mitchell were dismissed.

Mitchell agreed to plead in December, a little more than a year after Bradford granted a motion filed by her attorney, Bob Harper, to suppress the physical evidence collected at the scene in the hours following the shooting.

Harper specifically argued in that motion that investigators “continued to search (Mitchell’s) residence, took many photos, and collected much evidence” there “without her permission and without a valid search warrant.”

Another motion, this one to suppress Mitchell’s statement to police--on the grounds that she didn’t understand her Miranda rights and her request to call an attorney was ignored during her questioning--was still pending when she pleaded in December.

According to Porter Police, officers responded to Mitchell’s home at 4:18 a.m. Sept. 14, 2011, after she ran to a neighbor’s, still carrying the shotgun. Her first words to officers, police said: “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 also advised investigators that she warned Crouse “she would shoot him if he did not stop his aggression” but that “he ignored her warnings.”

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

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


Posted 2/11/2015




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