BREAKING STORY: Prosecutor explains self-defense as second shooting investigation leads to arrest of Brazil man
COVID-19 self-isolation believed source for rising statewide domestic violence reports
Two recent shootings during violent domestic situations, one resulting in death and the other with a person hospitalized, on State Road 340 has garnered a lot of public interest. As both of the cases came to resolutions this week, the Clay County Prosecutor’s Office wants to address the topic of self-defense.
Clay County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that James K. Hill, 35, Brazil, was arrested Thursday on a warrant issued May 20th out of Clay Circuit Court. Hill faces six felony charges for his involvement in the April 12th shooting at 5131 West State Road 340. Initially believed to be a victim, Hill was transported to Terre Haute Regional Hospital in critical condition while the investigation continued by the CCSO.
During that investigation, it was determined Hill had been the aggressor when an undisclosed minor shot him during a violent confrontation.
“I believe it’s important the public knows what the self-defense law is in Indiana,” said Prosecutor Emily Clarke, who said it is recognized as “an absolute defense” to the charge of murder per Indiana Code 35-41-3-2, and in other states across America.
Clarke explained a person must meet the criteria for a claim of self-defense, including:
Been in a place where they had a legal right to be,
Acted without fault (didn’t initiate the aggression), and
Acted in reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm to their person or someone else.
“Where self-defense is claimed, the burden is upon the State to show a defendant has not met the requirements of self-defense. Furthermore, the danger for violence need not be real, but the defendant must reasonably believe that it exists,” said Clarke. “We take this very seriously. We spent a lot of time, several weeks checking the history of each of these cases, reviewing all the evidence before making this type of decision.”
On Monday, the Indiana State Police released information regarding the on Feb. 16th shooting at 2055 West State Road 340, Brazil. Clarke concluded when Keegan Galloway shot and killed Robert P. Blystone, 31, of Brazil, in February, he did so in self-defense.
Due to the severe nature of both cases, Clarke said the Indiana State Police Crime Scene Unit was called in to perform a thorough investigation.
“When it comes to serious cases like this, we have to do a complete investigation immediately before we are going to charge someone,” said Clarke, who admitted the lengthy investigation helped the county in more than one way in Hill’s charging and arrest. “In this specific case - even if we had been able to solve that case the night it happened - Hill was taken to the hospital, in no condition to go to jail. If arrested and taken into custody then, the county would have assumed the cost for keeping a deputy at the hospital and potentially Hill’s medical bills.”
The ISP Crime Scene Unit’s report arrived for Clarke’s review after Hill was released from the hospital, “In a way, it was fortunate for us.”
Although Clarke understands the public’s thirst for more details about what happened in these two cases, she doesn’t believe in potentially sensationalizing a story, and make a bad situation even worse with unnecessary information.
“Domestic situations are always tough. As a prosecutor, I know it’s tough when the public wants to know what happened, especially when someone dies. That is serious,” said Clarke, who added the Prosecutor’s Office would not officially release any further details. “I have to take into consideration all the parties involved, on both sides, and including any minor children who might have been in the home at the time.”
Both cases had children in the homes at the time of the heated domestic situations that turned violent, and ultimately deadly in one case.
“All of that is very sensitive information, and if we release the details of what happened during a heated argument and what transpired during events like this, it is not going to help anyone,” Clarke said. “To put that out in the public realm is not going to help anyone on any side. There are no pros or cons in doing that; that is just a mess. No one really benefits from that type of information being out there.”
Officials confirm James K. Hill remains incarcerated at the Clay County Justice Center on a Level 1 felony Attempted Murder, two counts of Level 6 felony Pointing a Firearm (F6), three counts of Level 6 felony Criminal Recklessness with a deadly weapon. He has a $50,000 cash bond and is awaiting formal court proceedings.
Although only one of the shootings took place during the COVID-19 stay-at-home mandate, Clarke said there had been more domestic abuse situations reported around the state.
“The first shooting happened before the COVID-19 pandemic in February, but the second one happened in the middle of it,” said Clarke, who believes anxious people experiencing unexpected unemployment, financial hardships, cooped up at home without a regular schedule or someplace to go or the feeling of being trapped in a bad situation can lead to severe issues, hindered even more by the abuse of alcohol or drugs. “A lot of the nuisance calls like complaints involving neighbor disputes are down. We see, however, a lot of people at home in arguments. The calls we are getting are more serious than usual.”
Domestic violence is a problem at state and national levels, especially during the current pandemic. People are being encouraged to learn more about the emotionally complicated topic and maintain supportive communication with those believed to be experiencing domestic violence.
The Indiana State Department of Health recently provided information for those struggling with domestic abuse/violence issues. People can contact the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-332-7385, Text LOVEIS to 22522 for more information, or visit icadvinc.org or thehotline.org (click “Live Chat”) online.
Representatives at the National Domestic Violence Hotline are available to speak to victims and survivors 24/7. Call 1-800-799-7233 or log to talk to someone. If you're unable to talk safely, log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.
To report information about a domestic abuse situation or any other crime, contact the Brazil City Police Department at 446-2211 for incidents in the city, or the Clay County Sheriff's Department at 446-2535 for conflicts in the county. To report an active crime involving domestic abuse or another in progress, call 911.