Defendant in confinement case accepts plea agreement

Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Michael Shane Witt

Less than a week after advising the court he wanted to represent himself in a Putnam Superior Court bench trial, a 34-year-old Cloverdale man has reversed field and accepted a plea agreement in a controversial confinement case.

Michael Shane Witt, facing two felonies and a misdemeanor as a result of a Dec. 29 incident at the Cloverdale home he shared with six children, has agreed to plead guilty to neglect of a dependent, a Class C felony punishable by up to eight years in prison.

In exchange for Witt's guilty plea, Putnam County Prosecutor Timothy Bookwalter has agreed to dismiss charges of battery causing bodily injury, a Class D felony, and domestic battery, a Class A misdemeanor.

Appearing briefly at a change-of-plea hearing before Superior Court Judge Denny Bridges Tuesday afternoon, Witt sat alone at the defense table with court-appointed standby counsel Scott Bienick behind him in the front row of seats generally reserved for defendants awaiting their hearings.

Bookwalter explained that soon after Witt announced he wished to represent himself at a bench trial that Judge Bridges had ordered set for June 14, the Prosecutor's Office prepared a plea agreement and had it forwarded to Witt at the Putnam County Jail.

"I sent him a plea and he sent it back with some minor changes," Bookwalter told the court.

After a couple modifications and a review of the plea agreement by standby counsel Bienick, it was presented to Judge Bridges. He took it under advisement Tuesday afternoon to await a presentence investigation to be conducted into Witt's background.

In awaiting that, Judge Bridges set a sentencing hearing for 2 p.m. May 29.

"I'm ready to be sentenced as soon as possible to get these court proceedings over with," Witt asserted.

Witt asked if the court would be talking about his probation at that time, and was advised that probation would be up to the judge.

As written, the plea agreement calls for Witt to serve a maximum executed sentence of three years in the Indiana Department of Correction.

Terms of the agreement include that the defendant take all required mental health medications, complete all recommended mental health treatment and comply with all Department of Child Services (DSC) orders and directives.

The highly publicized confinement case became public late last year after Witt reportedly became enraged that his 10-year-old stepson had spilled sugar on the kitchen floor.

As punishment, Witt allegedly confined the boy in a room without access to food, water or toilet facilities.

"You didn't allow him to have proper sanitary facilities," Bookwalter pointed out to the defendant Tuesday in reviewing the plea deal.

"I'm admitting guilt to that," Witt replied.

His estranged wife April Wilson-Witt advised authorities Shane had poked the boy who spilled the sugar on top of his head and then elbowed her in the head and face.

It was while interviewing the wife that officers noticed a "strong odor of urine and feces" from a back bedroom area and found a closed door with a rectangular piece removed, resembling a cell opening.

Officers later discovered a stool with a circular section cut out of the seat positioned over a trashcan and trash bag to collect human waste.

Witt was arrested last Dec. 29 and has remained in the Putnam County Jail ever since. His wife was arrested Jan. 10 and has since been released.

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  • These people are not normal people at all. I would be a weeks worth of wages that if Michael Witt was denied the same sanitary facilities in prison he would pitch a fit. I think his new name should be "nitwit". What a loser!!!!!!!!!

    -- Posted by donantonioelsabio on Wed, May 1, 2013, at 8:34 AM
  • He is the PERFECT example of why you should stay away from DRUGS. He is a worn out meth/crack head. He needs to be kept away from kids, women, animals, & locked up for the rest of his life. There is no fixing people once they have used so much meth, they are just ruined.

    -- Posted by truthis on Wed, May 1, 2013, at 1:09 PM
  • Let's hope his new cell mate is named Bubba who has a bad attitude for child abusers.

    -- Posted by donantonioelsabio on Wed, May 1, 2013, at 6:27 PM
  • Doesn't anyone believe in forgiveness. We are not perfect. Everyone seems to judge.We are very critical of others.That's what's wrong with the world today.

    -- Posted by denby on Wed, May 1, 2013, at 6:27 PM
  • This man does not deserve any kind of forgiveness and deserves everything he gets, should not get any breaks what so ever!!!

    -- Posted by becker on Wed, May 1, 2013, at 7:08 PM
  • This guy has a record as long as your arm. He has been given several chances and still the same old stuff. I hope he does get his in prison.

    -- Posted by ladycubs on Wed, May 1, 2013, at 9:03 PM
  • To denby==You would sing a different tune if what he did to that boy if you were related to that little boy.

    Forgiveness involves repenting on his part. Repenting means to turn away from something and not do it anymore. I don't think he has any remorse over what he has done to that little boy. All I see in his pic is defiance and looking down his nose to others.

    I also cannot understand a woman allowing her kids to be around a "man" like this. Is she so hard up for attention she was willing to put her kids at risk for this dirt bag??? Just think of the trauma this little boy will have to deal with the rest of his life.

    Forgiveness??? Only after repentance and remorse. Only God can forgive him, but God has a special way to deal with him. As Jesus said, "It would be better if one would tie a millstone around their neck and cast them selves into the sea as to what I have in store for those who cause a little one to stumble". Think about this.

    -- Posted by donantonioelsabio on Wed, May 1, 2013, at 10:21 PM
  • He deserves nothing but to sit in jail. People like this do not change, b/c they are SO completely fried from all of the drugs, their brain will never be the same! He needs to be kept locked up away from children, women, animals, human beings, & insects! He's a POS.

    -- Posted by truthis on Mon, May 6, 2013, at 3:16 PM
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