Police: Driver hit man on purpose

HANCOCK COUNTY — A driver who intentionally struck another man with his truck Thursday remains in the Hancock County Jail as prosecutor weigh criminal charges, investigators say.

Joseph Baker, 27, of Greenwood, was booked into the Hancock County Jail on a preliminary charge of criminal recklessness Thursday night after he hit Duane Begley, 23, of New Palestine, with his pickup truck following an argument around 5:30 p.m., police said. He remains in jail on a 72-hour hold filed Friday afternoon, prosecutors said.

Investigators are still piecing together what happened in the moments leading up to the altercation between the two men, who know one another through Baker’s ex-wife, who is dating the victim, they said.

Police believe Baker first purposely rear-ended Begley’s car near the intersection of U.S. 52 and County Road 500W shortly before 5:30 p.m. The two men then got into an argument, and minutes later, Baker ran over Begley, police said.

Begley suffered serious head injuries, police said, and was airlifted to Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, where he remained at press time Friday.

Police believe Begley’s relationship with Baker’s ex-wife could have sparked the incident.

Begley and the woman were driving along U.S. 52 when Baker used his green pickup truck to intentionally rear-end their car, New Palestine Police Chief Bob Ehle said.

Both men got out of their vehicles and began arguing. Witnesses told police Begley had a knife and might have tried to slit the tires of Baker’s truck, Ehle said.

Baker returned to his pickup and started to leave the area, police said; Begley followed him on foot.

Minutes later, Baker spun his truck around, striking Begley, police said.

Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton said investigators were weighing that evidence Friday, but had a few open ends to the investigation that could impact the formal criminal charges prosecutors choose to pursue.

Friday afternoon prosecutors filed a motion asking a judge to grant them an additional three days to weigh the evidence police have collected so far.

Law enforcement officials are given 48 hours after a person is arrested to file formal criminal charges; if that time expires, the person is released from custody.

But prosecutors need to know the extent of Begley’s injuries and the timeline surrounding the incident before deciding what charges to file against Baker, Eaton said.

If Begley were to succumb to his injuries, the case could rise to a homicide investigation, Eaton said. Begley was still in critical condition at press time, police said.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.