VALPARAISO | Abraham Bratcher, who made an initial court appearance Tuesday on a charge of murdering his friend, is no stranger to the legal system or the courtroom of Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford.
"I apologize for being in your court again," Bratcher told Bradford during the short hearing carried via a teleconferencing system between the jail and Porter County Courthouse.
A plea of not guilty was entered on Bratcher's behalf on an allegation he shot 31-year-old Gerid Forste on April 2 just minutes after catching Forste attempting to steal his cologne and the rifle used in the shooting, police said.
Bratcher, 34, was given a public defender Tuesday after telling the court he owns no real estate or vehicle, has no savings and has had no income over the past 60 days.
Further hearings were set for June 16 and July 21.
Bratcher voiced interest in a speedy trial, but was told by Bradford to first talk to his attorney.
Those who don't bond out of jail are entitled to a trial within 70 days of a request, Bradford said.
Bratcher is being held without bond because of the murder charge.
Forste's death marked the county's first homicide of 2014. It took place in a Chandana Point apartment in Valparaiso where Bratcher was staying.
An autopsy revealed Forste, of Kouts, was shot once in the chest and twice in the legs. Police believe the chest wound was fatal.
Both men have lengthy arrest records, including a September 2010 case in which Forste was taken into custody on allegations of battering Bratcher after the two had been up all night drinking, according to records obtained from the Porter County Sheriff's Department.
Bratcher described Forste at the time of that incident as a lifelong friend, according to police.