VALPARAISO | Christopher Battishill took the unusual approach Monday of not only representing himself at trial on two arson charges, but also wearing his bright orange jail garb rather than the street clothes worn by most defendants.
The 40-year-old Pine Township resident cited Scripture, complete with citations, throughout his opening statement in which he compared his appearance to Jesus and predicted the prosecutor would be deceitful.
"The defendant is trying to follow in Jesus' footsteps," Battishill said of himself.
He told jurors they have the right to know the whole story.
Battishill faces two Class B felony counts of arson and a Class A misdemeanor count of interfering with a firefighter in the Nov. 18 blaze at his mother's home, where he was living at the time.
Porter County Deputy Prosecutor Trista Hudson told jurors Battishill started the fire and then proceeded to interfere with the response of the first firefighter on the scene by pushing away his radio as he directed the others as they arrived.
The fire affected not only the house at 624 E. Old Chicago Road, but also numerous cars on the property, she said.
A jury in 2012 found Battishill guilty of intimidation and disorderly conduct in a case in which police had said he threatened to kill family members. Police said Battishill believed he was God and was armed with a samurai sword when he threatened to kill family members March 31, 2012.