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Robert Battle

Former East Chicago City Councilman Robert Battle.

HAMMOND — Ex-East Chicago Councilman Robert "Coop" Battle spells out in newly filed court records this week why he deserves a minimum sentence of 10 years for the 2015 murder of Reinmundo Camarillo Jr.

Battle is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 11. Members of the Camarillo family have said they want U.S. District Court Judge Philip P. Simon to impose the longest sentence possible of 20 years under a plea agreement. 

However, through Battle's attorney Jack Friedlander, the 45-year-old argued in Wednesday’s court filing that prolonged imprisonment will neither deter, nor properly rehabilitate him. 

Battle pleaded guilty in June to second-degree murder, which is intentional murder with malice aforethought, in which he shot and killed Camarillo Oct. 12, 2015, in East Chicago when Camarillo arrived at Battle's home to discuss an outstanding drug debt owed to him.

Friedlander has asked Simon to consider several factors outside of federal sentencing guidelines — such as Battle’s lack of violent criminal history and the low recidivism rate associated with ex-convicts in their 40s, court records state. Battle turned 45 in May, records state.

Friedlander also states Battle struggles with drug addiction, is at risk for future substance abuse and should be assessed and referred for treatment services during his prison sentence.

Battle was indicted in 2015 — while still serving as an East Chicago councilman — on one count related to the homicide and four counts linked to possession or distribution of marijuana and cocaine.

Unopposed in the November 2015 election, Battle was re-elected while being held in jail on the charges. The East Chicago City Council unanimously voted in May 2016 to remove him from office.

Battle suspected Camarillo was gov't informant

The circumstances of the killing have been in dispute since Battle's arrest.

The government alleges Battle had been trafficking in cocaine in Michigan since 2006 and was traveling home Sept. 23, 2015, from Flint, Michigan, when police stopped him on Interstate 94 in Porter County.

The government seized $100,700 from Battle's car, but allowed Battle to remain free and keep his gun.

Battle's lawyer told the court in 2015 that Camarillo suspected Battle had become a federal informant following that September arrest and confronted him Oct. 12, 2015. He said Battle shot Camarillo in self-defense after Camarillo cut Battle on his shoulder and neck with a knife. 

Battle dropped his self-defense argument when he pleaded guilty, court records show. 

Battle had faced either the death penalty or life imprisonment when first charged, but the plea agreement reduced the maximum sentencing guidelines. He will likely receive credit for the nearly three years in federal detention he already has served while awaiting trial.

The judge will decide Sept. 11 whether to accept the terms of the plea agreement and what sentence he will impose on Battle.

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Northlake County Reporter

Lauren covers North Lake County government, breaking news, crime and environmental issues for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.