Man can be tried in 2nd case involving kidnapping incident, COA affirms in ruling

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A trial court can prosecute a Lake County man for a second case that involved alleged criminal acts against his girlfriend and another man, the Court of Appeals of Indiana affirmed in an opinion Thursday.

The appellate court also remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings, rejecting the man’s appeal and ruling the state’s Successive Prosecution Statute did not apply in his case.

In the case, William R. Brittingham III suspected his girlfriend was romantically involved with another man.

When the girlfriend and other man arrived at work at the Dollar Tree in Merrillville in January 2022, Brittingham was waiting for them in the parking lot, according to court records.

Brittingham pulled his girlfriend out of a car, slammed her against the glass, handcuffed her and threw her in his vehicle.

He drove from the Dollar Tree parking lot to a nearby Meijer, got out of his vehicle and punched the other man several times.

Brittingham also displayed a firearm.

He then returned to his vehicle and drove away with his girlfriend in his vehicle, going to a house he shared with his girlfriend.

Brittingham forced his girlfriend into another vehicle and then drove west along Interstate 80.

During the drive, he phoned several friends and family members and threatened to kill himself and his girlfriend.

Law enforcement in Nebraska tracked Brittingham’s cellphone location and arrested him.

Brittingham was charged in January 2022 with multiple counts of felony kidnapping and criminal confinement with his girlfriend as the victim, as well as felony intimidation, pointing a firearm and misdemeanor battery for the other man.

In a second case brought before the court in February 2022, Brittingham was charged with the lone count of Class A misdemeanor battery for his actions involving the other man.

He pleaded guilty in the second case and was sentenced to 180 days in jail.

In May 2022, Brittingham moved to dismiss the charges pending against him in the first case.

He argued that the charges in the first and second case stemmed from the same incident and should have been joined under the same cause and not two separate ones.

Brittingham filed a motion for interlocutory appeal and the Court of Appeals of Indiana accepted jurisdiction over the appeal in September 2022.

The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision and ruled the Successive Prosecution Statute did not bar the state from prosecuting Brittingham for his alleged criminal acts in the first case, even though he had pleaded guilty to battery in the second case.

“The criminal acts underlying the two cases involved different victims, occurred at different times and in different places, and were fueled by distinct intentions,” said Judge Melissa May, writing for the court.

May wrote neither the Successive Prosecution Statute nor Indiana Code Section 35-34-1-10 have been interpreted “to automatically bar successive prosecutions for separate offenses that occurred at the same time or during the same general criminal episode.”

Brittingham’s alleged criminal acts against his girlfriend and his battery of the other man were not part of a single scheme or plan, May wrote.

Judges Leanna Weismann and Peter Foley concurred.

The case is William R. Brittingham, III v. State of Indiana, 22A-CR-1974.

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