VALPARAISO — An initial murder hearing was held Thursday morning for a 43-year-old Valparaiso man, who had to be placed in a state mental facility after tearing up three of the four padded cells at the Porter County jail.
Michael Bachar rambled on incoherently at times about the Bible and his case during the short video conferencing hearing carried out between the Indiana Reception Diagnostic Center in Plainfield and the local courtroom of Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary DeBoer.
Bachar asked the judge to keep a witness in the case away from his family.
"I don't want to be around this person," he said.
As Bachar began speaking about the details of his case, DeBoer stopped him, pointing out the hearing was being recorded.
"I'm happy that it's being recorded," he said.
Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds later said that it was unusual to have to send a county inmate with mental health problems to the Indiana Department of Correction while his case proceeds.
Yet Porter County, like other counties, just does not have the proper resources at its jail to hold and treat someone with severe mental health issues, he said.
The padded cells at the county jail are designed for short-term stays and require round-the-clock supervision, Reynolds said. Bachar was held in a padded cell for 35 of his 44 days with the county, which is not right, he said.
"We're a jail, not a mental health facility," Reynolds said.
The problem was created decades ago when many mental health facilities were closed, he said. Reynolds said he is working at the state level to come up with a fix.
DeBoer entered not guilty pleas on Bachar's behalf to the newly-filed charges of murder and felony strangulation.
Bachar is accused of strangling George Batey, 60, of Valparaiso, who later died of asphyxiation, officials have said.
Bachar, who had been living with Batey in the 700 block of Center Street in Valparaiso, said Batey punched him May 18 and he defended himself by grabbing Batey by the throat "while telling (Batey) to stop and apologize," according to charging documents.
Bachar said Batey "had some sort of Satan in him" and Batey "wasn't going to stop until he (Bachar) made him stop," police said.
Bachar reportedly told police he did not really care if Batey died and knew it was a possibility, but that that was not his intention, charges state.
An autopsy revealed Batey died from asphyxiation from manual strangulation and a loss of oxygen to the brain, according to charging documents. His death was ruled a homicide.
Defense attorney Mark Chargualaf filed a motion seeking to have Bachar evaluated by two mental health professionals to determine his competency to "understand the nature of the proceedings and assist in his defense."
DeBoer said the evaluations will be carried out and scheduled for an Aug. 13 status hearing.
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