Judge declares mistrial in arson case; defendant had acted as own attorney

- BY JAMES D. WOLF JR. Post-Tribune correspond­ent

VALPARAISO — The trial of a Porter County man for arson ended in Porter Superior Judge William Alexa calling a mistrial moments before the trial was expected to end Tuesday afternoon.

Alexa had the defendant, Christophe­r D. Battishill, 40, taken to Logansport State Hospital, where he’ll be evaluated for competency.

Although Battishill argued the court already had had him tested for competency, Alexa said, “based on my observatio­ns in here, you’re not” competent.

Battishill faced up to 20 years in prison on each of two counts of Class B felony arson for the Nov. 18 incident. He’s accused of burning down the home where he lived in the 600 block of East Old Chicago Road in Pine Township.

He acted as his own attorney and seemed to be going for an insanity defense, twice asking the last witness and Alexa if Battishill’s own behavior was something they would do.

Battishill, who appeared in court in an orange Porter County Jail prisoner’s jumpsuit, was previously convicted of Class D felony intimidati­on in September 2012 after an incident in which held police at bay with a samurai sword and punched two officers and two security guards when he was taken to Porter County Hospital.

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