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Man charged in sledgehammer attack says he'll reject plea offer

Man charged in sledgehammer attack says he'll reject plea offer


Patrick J. Ross

CROWN POINT — A Hammond man facing a second trial on charges of allegedly attempting to murder a man with a sledgehammer nearly three years ago told a judge Wednesday he would reject a possible plea offer calling for a 16-year sentence.

Patrick J. Ross, 42, said the only plea offer he would accept called for an eight-year sentence.

Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Daniel Burke told Judge Diane Boswell an eight-year agreement had been offered in the past but was no longer on the table.

"That plea will not be offered ever again," Burke said.

Ross was convicted in February of multiple felony counts in the sledgehammer attack Jan. 25, 2018 outside Scott Middle School in Hammond. A level 1 felony such as attempted murder carries a possible penalty of up to 40 years in prison. 

Boswell set aside the jury's verdict against Ross in March, because Ross' public defender withdrew from the case mid-trial and Ross never clearly said he wanted to represent himself.

Ross went on to tell the jury he knew how to swing a hammer and would have killed the victim if that were his intention. He admitted to drinking gin and taking prescription pills before the attack Jan. 25, 2018, on a man who had accompanied Ross' ex-wife to the school.

Ross' current public defender, John Maksimovich, asked that Burke provide the plea offer in writing so he can discuss it with Ross.

Burke said the plea offer would call for a 16-year sentence, with 12 years to be served in prison.

Ross said he would refuse to accept the current plea offer.

He blamed his decision to refuse the previous eight-year plea offer on his former public defender, Casey McCloskey.

McCloskey withdrew from the case days after Ross' trial opened in February, because Ross accused McCloskey of colluding with prosecutors. 

According to court records, Ross previously had been warned by the Lake County public defender's officer that continued allegations against McCloskey would be considered a waiver of counsel.

After Boswell set aside the verdict from Ross' first trial, she ordered two mental health professionals to evaluate him.

He was found to have been sane at the time of the sledgehammer attack and competent to stand trial a second time, online court records show.

Ross' trial is currently set to begin Feb. 22.

Ride Shotgun with Lake County sheriff’s Sgt. Bryan Kersey as he checks to ensure convicted Northwest Indiana sex offenders are complying with state sex-offender registry laws. This special episode of “Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops” was filmed recently in conjunction with a Midwest reporting project titled, “Out of the Shadows: Spotlight on Sex Crimes.” The special report will span multiple newspapers throughout Lee Enterprises’ Midwest news agencies and will be taking a deep look at sex crimes, the offenders, their victims and the effectiveness of state laws and justice systems in dealing with the issue. “Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops” is an ongoing video series produced by The Times of Northwest Indiana. Video filmed by Kale Wilk and produced by Scotia White.

Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail


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