Barton accepts plea deal in Hoosier Village attack

Ritchie Barton

Ritchie Barton pleaded guilty but mentally ill to a charge of aggravated battery and two counts of attempted battery by means of a deadly weapon, at a plea change hearing Friday.

The charges stem from an early morning incident, May 25, 2018, at Crawsford Manor on the Hoosier Village campus in Zionsville, when Barton stabbed Saundra Finchum in the sternum and legs after telling her "I've got to kill you," she told police. After tussling with Finchum and a neighbor's guest, Barton stabbed at two police officers who were trying to apprehend him, stopping only when he was Tased.

Finchum survived her injuries.

At Friday's hearing, Boone Superior I Judge Matthew Kincaid said the case was shocking and sad. He said that while Barton acknowledges committing the crimes and that he suffers from mental illness, the penalty for his attack on Finchum and the police officers had to be seriously considered. But Kincaid also said that it was a sad situation because Barton had been a law abiding citizen all of his life and that the mental illness happened later in his life. He added that if people who had known Barton 20 years ago would have been told he would do this, they wouldn't have believed it.

Barton, 66, Zionsville, sat quietly in the nearly empty courtroom, whispering occasional questions to his public defender, Debbie Smith, and providing "yes" or "no" answers to Kincaid about his understanding of his rights and the consequences of his change of plea.

Kincaid said that two physicians had assessed Barton and found him competent to participate in the hearing, and asked Barton if he agreed with that assessment. Kincaid also told Barton to tell him if he couldn't understand the proceedings or began to feel mentally unfit during the hearing.

The guilty but mentally ill plea, which was ultimately accepted by Kincaid, calls for a sentence of 16 years on the first charge, with 12 years to be executed — nine at a Department of Corrections facility and three on home detention — followed by four years of supervised probation. The sentence for the other two charges would be for three years' prison time each, running concurrent with the first sentence. Barton will get credit for 427 days already served, and will be eligible for one day of good time credit for every three days served and he will receive mental health services.

In addition to the jail time, Barton is to pay $300 in restitution to Finchum, court costs, probation fees, and $2,500 to supplement the public defender's fund. He is never to contact the victim. Charges for attempted murder, criminal confinement and resisting law enforcement were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

Had Barton been found guilty in a trial, he could have been sentenced from three to 28 years, and faced fines from $0 to $30,000.

Smith said Barton was willing to accept the terms of the plea, that he was very remorseful, and that he was in hopes of receiving some additional mental health treatment.

"It is my belief that it is in his best interest, and it is his desire to plead guilty," Smith said.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney T. K. Morris said the state accepted the plea, and that Finchum and the two police officers also approved of the deal.

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