LAPORTE | A judge on Wednesday rejected the plea agreement of a Westville man accused of moving the body of a heroin overdose victim.
The judge was especially upset that Joshua Bendix, while out on bond for this charge, was arrested for another crime.
In October, Bendix agreed to a 20-day sentence in the LaPorte County Jail along with 45 days of home detention and 390 days probation for Class D felony possession of a controlled substance and Class A misdemeanor failure to notify authorities.
In early December 2011, police located a vehicle containing the body of Scott Murray, 25, in the 10000 block of West 350 South.
According to court records, Murray showed up at the Bendix residence at New Durham Estates the previous night under the influence of narcotics and kept passing out.
Bendix and his father, Patrick Bendix, 53, along with Anthony Burroughs, kept checking on Murray during the night as he slept in a back bedroom.
At some point, Murray died, and the three men allegedly carried the body rolled in a blanket into a vehicle.
Police said Joshua Bendix drove the vehicle containing the body to where it was found by police.
Burroughs told investigators authorities were not contacted about the death because Joshua Bendix was afraid of getting into trouble because of "all of the drugs in the residence," according to court documents.
Defense attorney Kurt Earnst urged the judge to accept the plea, saying he realizes that a body was involved and the circumstances were an usual case, but "it's a fair resolution to the case."
Bendix apologized to the court, saying, "I know what I did was wrong. Had I not been under the influence at the time, I know I would have made better decisions."
However, LaPorte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos said the plea deal did not require any substance abuse counseling, despite evidence of narcotics being used by the defendant and being present in the home.
"The plea doesn't deal with any drug treatment," said Alevizos.
He also cited a juvenile criminal history by Bendix and his arrest in Porter County for theft while out on bond awaiting the outcome of this case.
Bendix was placed on probation and has begun doing community service as part of his sentence in Porter County.
Bendix could now face the possibility of a four-year prison sentence if the case goes to trial. Alevizos set a status hearing for Feb. 6.
Patrick Bendix in June was sentenced to one year probation in relation to the body moving.
Burroughs in April entered into a plea agreement by which, if he doesn't get arrested over the next 12 months, the charge against him will be dismissed.