Son gets 40 years in 2012 stabbing death of father

Friday, March 7, 2014
Thomas W. Badgley

A 22-year-old Greencastle man, who admitted to the September 2012 stabbing death of his father, was sentenced Friday afternoon at the end of an emotional hearing in Putnam Superior Court.

Thomas W. Badgley, who pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter during a change of plea hearing Dec. 10, was sentenced Friday to 40 years for the fatal stabbing of his father, Tommie Dale Badgley, 53, during a Sept. 12, 2012 incident.

Superior Court Judge Denny Bridges -- who heard more than two hours of testimony from state and defense witnesses trying to influence his decision concerning a sentencing range of 20-50 years for the voluntary manslaughter conviction -- ordered a 40-year sentence in the Department of Correction (DOC). Badgley will serve out a 35-year commitment.

"I believe a fair sentence would be 40 years in the DOC with 35 executed and five years suspended," Judge Bridges ordered.

Given 541 days of credit time for the 18 months he has been incarcerated at the Putnam County Jail, Badgley will be closing in on age 40 by the time he is released from prison (figuring the standard two days counted for one day served "good time" credit).

Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter argued for a 40-year sentence (with 10 years probation) for Badgley, citing a number of aggravating circumstances.

"This wasn't any accident," Bookwalter said during sentencing arguments. "It was an intentional crime."

Meanwhile, defense counsel Dennis L. Thomas Jr. of Indianapolis, arguing for the 20-year minimum sentence, stressed mitigating circumstances he deemed relevant to the fatal incident at the younger man's 906 S. Crown St. residence in Greencastle's South End.

"I don't think anybody thinks this young man is a murderer," Thomas said, knowing that a plea agreement dropped the initial murder charge in return for Badgley's guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter.

Thomas also pointed to the weapon used in the stabbing, a nine-inch serrated steak knife Badgley grabbed from a kitchen drawer, noting that with a "perfect stab" thrust it right between two ribs and straight into his father's heart.

Prosecutor Bookwalter, however, showed the court how the victim was fatally stabbed, using an overhand thrusting motion from above his shoulder to indicate the path of the knife.

Bookwalter also pointed out that Badgley "already got a significant break" in not facing the murder charge, which carries a sentencing range of 45-65 years.

The prosecutor also pointed to 17-minute video of Badgley's interrogation that was shown in court Friday. Bookwalter said he saw no remorse from a son who had just stabbed his father.

"He was mad at his dad for butting into his life," Bookwalter said. "His dad was there for one reason, the love of his son, no other reason than that. His dad wasn't there was any bad reason, and he voluntarily took his life."

The circumstances precipitating the fatal stabbing evolved after the defendant's roommate became concerned for his friend's safety, thinking Badgley had overdosed on several pills (later determined to be mostly Tylenol).

Court documents note that the roommate called Badgley's parents, Tommie and Debbie, who rushed to the scene intent on getting their son to go to the Putnam County Hospital emergency room.

"My husband wanted to take him to the hospital," Mrs. Badgley advised Friday. "Thomas didn't want to go."

Reportedly his father sternly ordered, "We have to get you to the hospital" before a struggle ensued.

The defendant reportedly responded by standing up and swinging his fist at his dad.

In response, the elder Badgley swung back while asserting, "I am not going to stand here and watch my son die," court documents note.

During his testimony Friday, Badgley suggested he was "trying to get him out of my house" when he reached for the kitchen knife.

He also admitted he had been trying to commit suicide by taking fifteen pills he thought were the narcotic Klonopin.

"My dad wanted to take me to the hospital," he said, responding to a Bookwalter question, "because he didn't want me to die."

Badgley said he will never be able to forget what he did.

"I did something terrible that I didn't mean to do," he said. "I know I can't take it back and it's something I have to live with for the rest of my life.

"I still haven't forgiven myself."

Thomas suggested his client was entitled to "some real consideration" for the minimum 20-year sentence because he is a changed person since the incident and his 18 months in jail.

"He was a troubled young man," Thomas said, indicating Badgley was running with the wrong crowd since graduating from Cloverdale High School. "He was frustrated and didn't know what to do. Even in the video you can see he's agitated.

"I know he's changed," Thomas continued. "He's never been a discipline problem in jail. I think he's deserving of some real consideration here."

Calling him a victim of his own circumstances, Thomas said Badgley's mother has forgiven him and would welcome him home and into her life again when he is released from prison.

If the court imposed the minimum sentence, Thomas suggested, Badgley would be about 30 and could still "get an education, find employment, live with his mother," and enjoy the simple things in life -- or as she suggested -- "go out and eat a Dairy Queen ice cream cone" as they used to.

However, Judge Bridges unveiled his own scorecard of aggravating and mitigating circumstances.

He noted Badgley's young age (22), his lack of serious criminal history and the fact he did accept responsibility and plead guilty as mitigating factors all in his corner.

Aggravating factors, however, outweighed them, the judge said.

Bridges pointed to such factors as the victim being unarmed, the idea the father was there to try to save his son's life, and the fact the son could have let cooler heads prevail by walking out the kitchen door instead of grabbing a knife from the drawer.

"Today," Judge Bridges added, "is the first time I have ever heard him say 'I'm sorry.' It's convenient to say 'I'm sorry' when you're about to go to prison."

Badgely was remanded to the custody of the Putnam County Jail, pending his transfer to DOC. Bridges said he would recommend that following the initial time at the diagnostic center at Plainfield Badgley be housed at Putnamville to be closer to his family.

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  • Or, he could have been executed for killing an unarmed man who was trying to help him.

    After his burial, Thomas would have been closer to Tommie.

    Thomas gets to eat and live the rest of his natural life.

    Tommie gets the short-end of the stick.

    Not a fair trade-off at all.

    -- Posted by donantonioelsabio on Sat, Mar 8, 2014, at 12:11 PM
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