PORTAGE — While voicing concern about Jamal Washington downplaying his role after being convicted of battering a female cousin, a judge decided Tuesday to spare the Lake County councilman any further jail time.
Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Thode, who served as special judge in the case, sentenced 45-year-old Washington to 180 days at the Lake County Jail, but suspended all but time already served to be spent on unsupervised probation. Washington served 15 days in jail.
The judge also ordered Washington to complete 15 days of community service.
Washington said before sentencing that he had not been treated fairly. He said he speaks out against injustice and was placed in a box as a result and taught a lesson.
"It was a perfect storm, and I suffered a lot of consequences from it," he said.
He said the victim in the case, 24-year-old Kamira Buckley, told him that she was threatened with jail time if she did not push forward with her allegations.
"I love my cousin," Washington said.
Washington had pleaded not guilty to five criminal counts alleging he assaulted Buckley during a dispute Dec. 5, 2017, at his Merrillville home.
A jury found Washington guilty last month on misdemeanor counts of battery and interference with reporting of a crime, while clearing him of the three more serious felony charges.
Special Prosecutor Stanley Levco said while misdemeanor cases are not typically sentenced into jail, this is not a routine case.
He referred to Washington's prior conviction of battering his wife Dec. 3, 2015, and being on probation from that case when this most recent offense occurred.
Buckley chose not to take part in Tuesday's sentencing, "But that doesn't make it a victimless crime," Levco said.
Buckley testified during trial that Washington became infuriated with her because she had interrupted their telephone conversation to say hello to another county government employee at her workplace. The matter came to a head about 3 p.m. that day when she returned to his home and he told her to leave.
Buckley said he body slammed, choked and threatened to hit her with a mallet during their argument and then refused to let her go until she accepted his apology.
She said he broke her cellphone during their struggle and refused to let her use his computer or his cellphone to contact someone about the attack.
Washington told jurors, "I never laid hands on my cousin. You should never choke anybody." He denied he threatened her with a hammer and said Buckley's cellphone already was broken before their confrontation.
Washington's term of office ends this month. Thode told him at the end of Tuesday's hearing, "I'd love not to have to revisit this case."