Suspect who claims self-defense in judges’ shooting jailed without bond on minor violation

The man accused of shooting two judges during an Indianapolis altercation more than a year ago — and whose attorneys unsuccessfully pressed for the release of surveillance video of the incident they say backs up his self-defense claim — is back behind bars, held without bond after a minor pretrial release violation. The arrest on a warrant appears to conflict with an Indiana Supreme Court order for trial courts to issue arrest warrants only in emergency cases due to concern about the spread of COVID-19 behind bars.

Brandon Kaiser, 42, had been on house arrest when was picked up and taken to the Marion County Jail earlier this month on a pretrial release violation that sources familiar with the situation described as minor, involving possession of unopened alcohol. Marion Superior Criminal Division 2, where Kaiser is facing multiple felony charges, could not be reached by phone Friday — a recording noted reduced staffing due to the pandemic — and a phone message left for Judge Shatrese Flowers was not immediately returned.

After alcohol was discovered at the Hamilton County home where Kaiser lives with his wife, online court records indicate Marion County Community Corrections filed a violation notice with the court May 21. Flowers issued a warrant for Kaiser’s arrest that same day, and he was arrested the following day and has been held without bond since, court records show.

Flowers since has denied defense requests for Kaiser to be released on bond.

Kaiser had been on home detention since last July on $80,000 bond. He is charged with four counts of Level 3 felony aggravated battery, two counts of Level 5 felony battery by means of a deadly weapon and two Level 6 felony counts of battery, plus lesser counts for his involvement in the shooting of Clark Circuit judges Andrew Adams and Bradley Jacobs early in the morning of May 1, 2019.

But Kaiser has pressed a self-defense claim, and his defense attorneys moved the court to lift a seal on video of the shooting in a downtown Indianapolis White Castle parking lot. Flowers has denied motions to release that evidence, which a grand jury saw before also indicting Adams on multiple felony battery counts related to the fight. The Jeffersonville judge pleaded guilty to a single felony count but was sentenced to no jail time or probation.

The Indiana Supreme Court then suspended Adams for 60 days, and the court suspended Jacobs and Crawford Circuit Judge Christina Bell for 30 days. All three, who were involved in the drunken brawl a few hours before a statewide judicial conference in Indianapolis, have since retaken the bench.

The Indiana Supreme Court has likewise refused to release the video, though Chief Justice Loretta Rush has indicated the court intends to direct the video be released after Kaiser’s criminal matter is resolved.

Meanwhile, the warrant Flowers issued for Kaiser’s arrest appears to conflict with an Indiana Supreme Court emergency order meant to curb the spread of coronavirus behind bars.

An order issued April 3 that has been extended and remains in force widely curtails the issuance of arrest warrants. “Absent an emergency basis to be determined by the court, courts shall issue no new writs of attachment, civil bench warrants, or body attachments pursuant to Trial Rule 64 until the expiration of the public health emergency,” the order states in part. “Any writs of attachment, civil bench warrants, or body attachments issued and not yet served prior to the date of this order shall be stayed until the expiration of the public health emergency as declared by the Governor.”

In announcing the order restricting warrants, the Supreme Court said last month, “By refraining from these actions, the courts will avoid placing undue burdens on individuals and communities during this public health emergency.”

But Kaiser now may remain behind bars for some time. Flowers on Friday granted a motion from his defense attorneys to withdraw from representing him. The judge also has set a hearing on Kaiser’s violation for July 2.

While the video of the brawl has not been made public, multiple sources who have seen the video have confirmed to Indiana Lawyer that it shows Kaiser being held down for several minutes on the concrete parking lot by one of the judges before allegedly shooting.

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