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Plea deal change delays sentencing for man charged in 2018 sledgehammer attack
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Plea deal change delays sentencing for man charged in 2018 sledgehammer attack

PATRICK JOSEPH ROSS.jpg

Patrick J. Ross

CROWN POINT — A Hammond man told a judge Friday he felt tricked into accepting a plea agreement in a sledgehammer attack outside a Hammond school in 2018.

Patrick Ross, 43, said he didn't "feel comfortable" working with his attorney and Lake County prosecutors and would rather work directly with Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell.

"I don't have money for an attorney," Ross said. "That's the problem."

Boswell assured Ross that wasn't the problem.

The judge said Ross willingly entered into a plea agreement in June that called for a 20-year sentence, with 10 years to be served in prison and 10 years suspended in favor of probation.

Ross already has served a number of years while awaiting trial in the Jan. 25, 2018, attack outside Scott Middle School and would receive credit for that time.

He pleaded guilty to criminal confinement and battery resulting in serious bodily injury, level 3 and 5 felonies, respectively.

Ride along with Officer Jimmy Weller as he patrols the region's border of Lake Michigan as part of the Lake County Sheriff's Marine Unit. Video by Connor Burge. 

Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Daniel Burke said he was prepared to offer Ross a new plea agreement, which would require Ross to plead guilty to the same two counts but would allow for attorneys to argue Ross' sentence.

The possible penalty on a level 3 felony is three to 16 years, while a level 5 felony carries a possible sentence of one to six years.

Ross repeatedly attempted to bicker with his public defender, John Maksimovich.

Maksimovich said Ross reviewed the plea agreement in June, went over it with the court and accepted it.

Boswell said Ross could not withdraw his pleas, but she would allow him to enter into the new plea offer.

Ross said he'd "go with" the new plea agreement.

"This is all about me going to prison," he said. "This system is so wicked and evil. It's heartless. You'll probably get a Rolex watch for this."

Man pleads guilty in sledgehammer attack outside Hammond middle school

Ross went to trial in February 2020 and was convicted of attempted murder, criminal confinement and two counts of battery.

Boswell later set aside the convictions and granted Ross a new trial, because he never clearly stated he wanted to represent himself at trial. 

Ross's first public defender withdrew from his case days after the trial opened, because Ross repeatedly falsely accused him of colluding with prosecutors.

During the trial, Ross admitted to "popping Xanax like Tic Tacs" and drinking a fifth of gin before attacking a man, who was at the middle school to pick up one of Ross' children.

Ross and the man had a longstanding feud, and Ross previously has been incarcerated for breaking a beer bottle over the man's head. 

At one point, Ross told jurors he knew how to swing a hammer and would have killed the man if that had been his intention.

Boswell rescheduled Ross' sentencing hearing for Oct. 8.

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