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Justices to consider conviction in killing of Southport pastor

April 23, 2018

A woman twice convicted in the shooting death of a Southport pastor will take her case to the Indiana Supreme Court this week and will urge the justices to uphold an Indiana Court of Appeals finding that she is not guilty by reason of insanity.

After Jordan Ashbury – acting on the advice of Bethel Community Church Pastor Jaman Iseminger – told his mother, Lori Barcroft, that she could no longer live with him due to her deteriorating mental state, Barcroft snuck into the Southport church and opened fire on Iseminger, killing him. She then fled the scene and was found hiding in tall weeds.  

Barcroft admitted to shooting the pastor, but she claimed she did so because he was collaborating with the Bush family to kill her entire family. Her delusions were later diagnosed as schizophrenia, paranoid type, or delusional disorder, persecutory type.

Barcroft was initially found guilty but mentally ill after a 2014 bench trial, then again on remand after a second bench trial in 2017. But the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed in December and instead found Barcroft not guilty by reason of insanity.

Judge Edward Najam wrote for the majority that the case’s demeanor evidence — including Barcroft’s statements before, during and after the crime — was not probative of her sanity at the time of the shooting. Judge Elaine Brown dissented.

The state appealed the majority’s holding, and the Supreme Court will hear Lori Barcroft v. State of Indiana, 18S-CR-00135, at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

The court will also hear two cases on petition to transfer Tuesday. First at 9:45 a.m., the justices will consider Brenda Sue Gittings, et al. v. William H. Deal, 74A01-1611-TR-02551, a case stemming from a years-long trust dispute between two stepsiblings.

The appellate court ultimately upheld the transfer of trust assets to William Deal despite the fact that his stepsister, Brenda Gittings, was improperly removed as a beneficiary of the trust by her stepmother more than 20 years ago. The court reluctantly agreed with Deal that Gittings’ 2013 claim against him was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. 

Finally, the justices will hear argument on petition to transfer in Monica Dycus v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1705-CR-00978, at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday. In that case, the lower appellate court overturned Monica Dycus’ conviction of Class A misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person after determining Dycus had the right to consult with an attorney before undergoing the drug recognition exam that led to her arrest and conviction.

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