(TERRE HAUTE) - A Terre Haute man was sentenced Wednesday for the stabbing death of another man in June 2010.
Joe Astrouski of WTHI TV reports that Charles Decker had initially been charged with murder after police said he stabbed Scott Medley at an apartment near the intersection of 7 th and Park Streets. Medley was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.
Earlier this year, however, Decker pleaded guilty to a lesser felony charge of battery with a deadly weapon as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Under that agreement, Decker would be sentenced to eight years with the Indiana Department of Corrections. Four years of that sentence would be suspended and Decker's good-time credit in jail would count for almost all of the other four years. He would also be required to take anger management counseling.
Wednesday morning, Judge John Roach accepted that plea agreement, adding requirements that Decker also take alcohol and drug treatment and that he work full time, attend school full time, or do a combination of both full time.
"You're not going to sit at home," Roach told Decker.
Several of Scott Medley's family members who attended the hearing expressed dismay that Decker was not tried for murder and that he would not serve prison time.
"I have two children of Scott Medley's and they have to grow up without a father all their life," said Danielle Elkins, who wore a shirt bearing Medley's photo to court. "I believe justice was not served today."
Prosecutors said deciding to offer Decker a plea agreement was tough, but they said the risk of Medley being acquitted was not acceptable.
"There were just a number of wildcards that were going to come into the trial that made a conviction uncertain," said deputy prosecutor Rob Roberts. "At that point, we entered back into plea negotiations after consulting with the family."
One of the "wildcards" Roberts cited was the likelihood that Decker's attorneys would argue that their client had acted in self-defense. Roberts said that, under Indiana law, the burden is on prosecutors to prove not only that the defendant committed committed the alleged crime but also that he or she had not been defending himself or herself.
Beyond that, Roberts said that forensic evidence taken from the scene, including records of blood spatters, did not match testimony given either by the primary witness in the case or by Decker himself.
Instead of risking a "not guilty" verdict, prosecutors chose to convict Decker on a lesser violent crime, Roberts said.
Under the conviction, Decker would not be able to buy a gun, Roberts said. If he were convicted of another felony, Decker would qualify for prosecution as a habitual offender, which could mean tougher prison sentences in the future, Roberts said.
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