CROWN POINT — A 22-year-old man convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting last summer of his ex-girlfriend's fiance was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison.
Charles E. Bayne was described in testimony Friday as responsible, kind and hard-working. The apprentice electrician and high school hockey player owned his own home in Cedar Creek Township and volunteered for the local 4-H Club, an agricultural youth program, according to testimony.
He told Judge Salvador Vasquez before sentencing he tried to live his life the right way. He admitted he was “terrified” of prison, and he thought every day about the shooting.
“Whether what I did was wrong or right, legal or not, I feel horrible,” he said.
Bayne was convicted Jan. 19 of voluntary manslaughter after a weeklong jury trial in Lake Criminal Court.
The jury determined Bayne killed Cody Klotz, 27, in a “sudden heat,” such as a moment of anger or passion, on July 15 at his home in the 17000 block of Mount Street in Cedar Creek Township.
The fight between the two men started in the early morning hours after Klotz sent Bayne a lewd photo of his girlfriend through Snapchat, a photo messaging service. Bayne's girlfriend was Klotz's former fiancee.
After words were exchanged, Klotz drove to Bayne's home to fight him, according to testimony. Bayne waited with a gun outside his home and, after a brief scuffle, he shot Klotz in the chest, killing him.
Bayne claimed at trial he acted in self-defense, though Deputy Prosecutor Joshua Malher noted the defendant left the safety of his home with a gun to wait for Klotz and did not call 911 until after the shooting.
Klotz was the father of a 6-year-old girl. Hilary Bostick, the girl's mother, requested Bayne receive the maximum sentence for voluntary manslaughter, 30 years in prison.
She said in a prepared statement her daughter lived 2,209 days knowing her father was only a phone call away. Now the girl blows out her birthday candles wishing for his return.
“I spend hours thinking of the life she would have spent with him, and it just breaks me,” she said.
Laura Bayne, the defendant's mother, smiled at her son after she took the witness stand. She said her son was on a good path before the shooting, purchasing his first home at 21 years old and working as an electrician for the family business.
Connie Brittingham, a 30-year volunteer leader for the 4-H program, said Bayne participated in the program from ages 9 to 19, then himself became a volunteer leader.
“He got along well with everyone since the day I met him,” she said.
Defense attorney Kevin Milner told Vasquez he still believed Bayne had a right to defend himself that night. Bayne was advised he can appeal both his conviction and his sentence.
Vasquez said the facts of the case were unusual.
He said it was clear Bayne, who had no prior criminal history, had no apparent flaws in his character. But the crime was significant, and Vasquez questioned why Bayne did not call police, instead of confronting Klotz.
“You acted unreasonably,” Vasquez said. “You did.”
Vasquez sentenced Bayne to 15 years in prison followed by five years in Lake County's Community Corrections. Bayne received 301 days credit for time he served awaiting the case's resolution.
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