Bar owner to face trial in September

Gordon Gardner

MICHIGAN CITY – Almost two years after he was arrested for allegedly striking a woman in the face with a bottle of liquor, a local bar owner confirmed Thursday he is prepared to face trial next month.

Gordon R. Gardner, owner of Decoy’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill, has until Aug. 24 to enter a plea agreement with the state, but his defense attorney gave no indication at his final pretrial conference in La Porte Superior Court 1 on Thursday that they have any plans to do so.

According to police reports, Gardner was tending bar at Decoy’s on Oct. 29, 2017, when he threw a liquor bottle at a patron.

Gardner reportedly told police he was aiming for a man who had poured his drink out on the bar, accidentally striking the woman instead.

The woman told police the altercation began when she wrote “cash” on the tip line of her receipt, and Gardner berated her for not tipping.

As a result of having been hit with the bottle, the woman suffered a broken tooth, facial lacerations and other injuries. The state told the court last year she had to get stitches and undergo dental work, and that a visible facial scar remains.

A few days after the incident, Gardner was arrested on felony charges of aggravated battery, battery and criminal recklessness.

The state alleged during a hearing in 2018 that “racial hatred” motivated the crime, but the judge rejected the attempt to classify the incident as a hate crime.

If convicted of the charges, Gardner could be sentenced up to 24 years in prison.

He remains free on $25,000 bond as he awaits trial.

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