Wittig receives 3-year sentence

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Heritage Lake man found guilty last month of four felonies was given a three-year Thursday morning sentence in Putnam Circuit Court.

Judge Matthew Headley sentenced Paul Wittig, 46, to three years, 18 months of which will be executed. Four months will be executed at the Putnam County Jail, with the remaining 12 with Putnam County Community Corrections.

Once he is out of jail, Wittig will also be required to perform four hours of community service each week.

With 28 credited days already served, Wittig has about an additional three months to serve. With Indiana Good Time Credit, he is likely to remain it jail for about a month and a half.

The convictions come as a result of an early-morning fight between Wittig and two Putnam County Sheriff's Department reserve deputies on July 4, 2011. Reserves Dena DeLaCruz and Barry Barger were both injured in the confrontation, with DeLaCruz spending several days in the hospital.

Wittig was convicted of Class C felony battery resulting in serious bodily injury, Class D felony battery resulting in bodily injury and two counts of Class D felony resisting law enforcement.

Putnam County Prosecutor Timothy Bookwalter called only DeLaCruz to the stand during Thursday's hearing. The officer testified that not only did she spend four days in an Indianapolis hospital following the incident, she also still deals with pain from her injuries 18 months later.

She even speculated that the aftermath of the attack may cause her to give up her job working security at Heritage Lake.

Barger, called to the stand later by defense attorney James Holder, testified that he still sometimes has to help DeLaCruz get moving in the morning and that he has taken her to a number of doctor appointments.

Testifying on his own behalf, Wittig was penitent and apologized to DeLaCruz and Barger.

The testimony was a far cry from the man witnesses say fought off two officers in a long, drawn-out struggle that hot July night.

"I'm very sorry for everything that happened -- the way it transpired," Wittig said. "It's not my character. The mistakes I made are going to have a lot of repercussions for a long time."

Wittig, along with ex-wife Lori Wittig and a work associate from Southwest Airlines, testified to the lasting effects a conviction will have on his life.

With a Class C felony now on his record, Wittig can never again get the clearance to work in the airline industry again, ending his 13-year career as an aircraft mechanic.

He has two teenage children and while incarcerated he will be unable to make child support payments or the expenses he pays beyond child support.

Even a part-time job owning a franchise in a furniture repair business will be jeopardized if he cannot perform any work for 30 days or more.

"It's not just my life and my future on the line," Wittig told Judge Headley. "It's my family and my children. My daughter is supposed to go to college next year. My son is still young and needs his father.

"My career and my life are not nearly as important as my family and my children."

Headley said he took these factors into account in handing down the sentence he did, saying the only aggravating circumstance was the extreme violence of the case.

"You put someone in the hospital for four days," Headley told Wittig. "That's significant."

In the end, the judge settled between the requests of the prosecution and defense.

Bookwalter requested the advisory sentence of four years with two executed, while Holder asked for community corrections so that Wittig might remain employed and contributing to his children.

Wittig is to report to the Putnam County Jail on Jan. 10 to serve the remainder of his four months in jail.

View 4 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • Amazing. Only in good ol' Putnam County can you beat the hell out of a cop, send them to the hospital for several days, and end up only having to spend a couple short months behind bars and then be sent to community corrections, aka, probation. This piece of trash is worried about what will happen to his family if he goes away for a long time...BS! He is using them to get the judge to feel sorry for him and apparently it worked. He should have thought about his family before he decided to consume all of that alcohol and challenge a police officer. It's a shame they didn't put him in the hospital for a few days.

    -- Posted by PutnamCountyResident on Fri, Jan 3, 2014, at 3:37 AM
  • What a travesty! He attacks two deputies. Puts one, a female no less, in the hospital for four days and causes her continual pain to this day. He could have received 17 years but the good 'ol boys in the Putnam County Judicial system allow him to serve less than 4 months in jail. It's time that we elect/appoint some judges with a sense of responsibility and justice!

    -- Posted by Borane on Fri, Jan 3, 2014, at 2:30 PM
  • They did put him in the hospital. He had a broken leg and wrist. He does care about his family. Maybe you should look at the trial transcripts.

    Do you know this "piece of trash"? He has no history of violence towards anyone. He would give you the shirt off his back without question. Unless you were there and know him, you should really keep your opinions to yourself.

    -- Posted by speok2 on Sun, Jan 5, 2014, at 8:01 PM
  • Okay, for one, the law enforcement is not above the law themselves. Any person in the county has a right to defend themselves.

    IF, and I say IF, a jury is intimidated, the judge has a right, a duty, to sentence accordingly.

    Besides, a felony charge against a person is no small thing. Consider that the defendant lost his job because of being convicted of a felony.

    If there are those out here that have no empathy toward others, then why are you involved with the political process at all, at all.

    -- Posted by LibertyStork on Sun, Jan 5, 2014, at 11:56 PM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: