GREENFIELD — A Greenfield man who beat a friend so severely the man wound up in a coma will serve a three-year sentence, a judge ordered Wednesday — despite the victim asking the defendant be sent away for longer.
Andrew Knuckles, 22, pleaded guilty to a Level 3 felony count of battery this week in Hancock Circuit Court as part of a deal with prosecutors that called for Knuckles to serve two years in prison and one year on probation. He was arrested in December, telling police he’d hurt a friend during an argument about $6 that had gone missing.
The victim, another Greenfield man who has since recovered from the beating, took the witness stand during a hearing this week to tell the judge he did not agree with the terms of the plea agreement penned between Knuckles’ defense attorney and prosecutors, who also seemed disappointed by the terms of the deal.
He asked Judge Richard Culver to considering sentencing Knuckles to something more severe. He said it would help him feel safe knowing Knuckles was be locked away while he continued to heal.
The plea agreement allowed Culver to decide where Knuckles would serve his punishment — choosing between the local jail, community corrections facility or prison.
Culver told Knuckles that decision was simple.
“I think you should go to prison,” Culver said. “It’s hard to find anything positive to say about you.”
The victim and Knuckles had been drinking together at Knuckles’ Greenfield home one evening, court records state.
At some point, a fight occurred, investigators said; though the victim noted in court this week he could not remember any of the details surrounding their argument.
The man was found by passersby lying in the yard of Washington Village Apartments in the 4400 block of Lake Potomac Drive, bloodied and beaten, court documents state. He was rushed to Indiana University Heath Methodist Hospital and placed in a medically induced coma to aid his recovery, court documents state.
Family members told police Knuckles was the last person seen with the victim, court documents state.
Knuckles was questioned by police before his arrest. He admitted he fought with the man, saying the victim had accused Knuckles’ girlfriend of taking $6 from him before the tussle began, court documents state.
Knuckles told investigators the fight lasted only a few seconds and was not serious enough to have caused his injuries, court documents state.
During his sentencing hearing this week, however, Knuckles changed his tune.
Reading a statement aloud, Knuckles apologized to the victim, saying he didn’t mean “to hurt him to that extent.”
The three-year sentence Knuckles was ordered to serve was the minimum penalty for his crime; Level 3 felonies carry potential penalties of three to 16 years.
The victim’s pleas to have Knuckles spend a longer period of time in prison did not fall on deaf ears, Judge Richard Culver told the man during Knuckles’ sentencing hearing.
Culver offered to toss out the plea agreement and set the matter for trial but cautioned the victim that it would delay the process and risk Knuckles walking away scot-free.
Culver also spoke candidly to Knuckles, saying he was disappointed in the defendant’s behavior and believed the defendant needs to seek help for mental health issues.