MICHIGAN CITY — Bradley Arndt was found guilty of murder-mentally ill for the killing of his brother, Tom Arndt.
The verdict was handed down Thursday in La Porte County Superior Court No. 1.
The felony stipulates that Arndt, 47, was mentally ill at the time of the murder, in which he stabbed his brother five times in his front yard on 105 Hummingbird Lane over a property dispute on Nov. 23, 2014.
"I think it was the proper verdict," prosecutor John Lake said. "I'm happy for the victim's wife to be able to put this behind her and move on with her life. It's a horrible tragedy when two brothers fight and it ends up like this."
The defense declined to comment on the verdict, but said it would likely be filing for an appeal.
Other possible verdicts included murder, manslaughter-mentally ill, manslaughter, reckless homicide and not guilty by reason of insanity.
The verdict came after the jury deliberated for around two hours on Thursday evening, following the closing arguments of Lake and defense attorney Craig Braje.
Lake emphasized in his closing argument that Bradley Arndt knowingly or intentionally killed Tom Arndt without acting under sudden heat. He showed remorse afterwards, but was mentally ill at the time of the killing.
He also emphasized that none of the expert witnesses — psychologists Dr. Clifton Titus and Dr. John Heroldt, and psychiatrist Dr. Kumud Aggarwal — concluded that Bradley Arndt was insane during the time of the killing.
He ended his argument by emphasizing the appropriateness of a murder-mentally ill verdict.
Braje, in his argument, emphasized the lack of knowledge Aggarwal and Heroldt had of Bradley Arndt's mental illness history when they made their assessments.
He also noted the testimony of neighbor Tony Thomas, who witnessed the killing and has known Bradley Arndt for most of his life. Thomas had testified to Bradley Arndt's delusional states and odd facial expressions he witnessed prior to the Nov. 23, 2014.
Braje also noted several testimonies that claimed Bradley Arndt had not been known to be violent to others prior to Tom Arndt's killing.
Braje said the defense believed strongly that Bradley Arndt was not guilty by reason of insanity, but that if the jury found the evidence to point to a guilty verdict, it would have to be manslaughter rather than murder.
Braje concluded by asserting his faith that the jury would do a good job in taking their time to come to a verdict.
Lake's rebuttal was that while Bradley Arndt had shown signs of delusional states and paranoia, there weren't records of a paranoid schizophrenic diagnosis until after Nov. 23, 2014. He also noted that witnesses noticed nothing unusual about Bradley Arndt's behavior before he became angry with his brother over being told he was going to have to leave the residence on 105 Hummingbird Lane.
"Did mental illness have an issue in the case?" Lake posed the question. "Of course it did. (Bradley Arndt) knew what he was doing at the time. It's not manslaughter. It's not reckless homicide. It's murder."
The day began with the court's final witness, Dr. John Heroldt, taking the stand. Heroldt, a psychologist practicing out of La Porte County, met with Bradley Arndt on Feb. 12, 2015, and declared he was not mentally ill and not insane at the time of the killing.
Braje noted that Heroldt had not received any documents regarding Bradley Arndt's mental illness history, nor had he spoken to anyone with knowledge of Arndt's mental illness history, before making the determination.
Lake noted that Heroldt used the Rogers Criminal Responsibility Assessment Scale to determine Bradley Arndt's sanity. He asked Heroldt if it was true that the scale is almost 99 percent accurate in doing so, and Heroldt affirmed that it is.
After the last of the witnesses had taken the stand, the defense wanted to show a video of Bradley Arndt at the La Porte County Jail just hours after the killing as evidence in rebuttal.
The prosecution objected on the grounds that the defense should have presented this video with their initial evidence, and that it was an unfair surprise.
The defense argued that it only brought out the video in rebuttal because of specific testimony made by one of the court's expert witnesses which stated that Bradley Arndt clearly recalled the events of his brother's death. Judge Michael Bergerson sustained the objection.
The evidence was submitted so that it would be on record as such for an appeal, but the video was not shown to the court.
A presentencing investigation will be followed by sentencing on Aug. 27 at 11 a.m. at La Porte County Courthouse.
Reach staff writer Aaron McKrell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 214-4169.