Battery convictions upheld for man who shot neighbor with nail gun

A man who bound his neighbors with zip ties, accused them of being police informants and shot one victim several times with a nail gun did not convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that his battery convictions constituted double jeopardy.

Robert Walton was sentenced to 39 years behind bars after he was convicted of numerous charges, including criminal confinement, several counts of battery with a deadly weapon and intimidation in an incident with his neighbors.

Walton, who worked in a Muncie auto shop, often invited John Keihn, Michelle Knight and Catherine Morton to parties held in the shop after hours. When Walton and co-worker Benitez McCullum invited Knight to come over for a party, she agreed and went with them.

But once at the shop, Knight’s hands and feet were bound with zip ties and she was accused of being a police informant. When Knight denied the accusation, Walton proceeded to shoot her with a pneumatic nail gun.

The men then went back for Keihn and McCullum, also binding them with zip ties and accusing them of the same thing. Keihn was struck over the head with a metal shovel, and the men covered the three victims’ mouths and necks with duct tape. The ties and tape were later loosened, and Keihn, Knight and Morton escaped.

Walton was ultimately convicted of Level 3 felony conspiracy to commit criminal confinement; Level 3 felony criminal confinement; four counts of Level 5 felony battery with a deadly weapon; Level 5 felony intimidation; two counts of Level 6 felony intimidation; and two counts of Level 6 felony criminal confinement.

He appealed, unsuccessfully arguing the Delaware Circuit Court erred when it denied his motion for directed verdicts on his counts of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit criminal confinement. Walton also argued his battery convictions constituted double jeopardy, but the Indiana Court of Appeals disagreed in its memorandum decision in Robert A. Walton v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.), 18A-CR-2908.

“Here, there was no reasonable probability that the actual evidentiary facts used by the jury to establish the essential elements of one of Walton’s convictions for battery were also used to establish the essential elements of his other convictions for battery,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote for the court.

“The State artfully drafted the battery charges to allege separate acts of shooting Knight: in her left leg, right leg, torso, and foot,” Mathias continued. “The State presented evidence detailing each of these injuries — both Knight’s testimony and the testimony of her treating physician. And, during its closing statement to the jury, the State clearly delineated the separate evidence supporting each of the battery charges.”

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