State Appeals Court Affirms Starke Circuit Court Ruling

 The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a sentence handed down in Starke Circuit Court in 2014. Gregory Schweisthal was sentenced to 64 months in prison on a felony invasion of privacy and a misdemeanor domestic battery charge.

Court documents indicate a no-contact order was in place between Schweisthal and his wife in August of 2013 when they went to a party and a bar together, got into an argument and it turned physical. During his jury trial in January of 2014, the state introduced text messages between Schweisthal and the victim into evidence. He did not object at the time, but argues on appeal that they were inadmissible. Since no objection was raised at during the trial, the court waived the issue on appeal.

The state also introduced testimony from Dr. Gregory Hale, who is an expert on domestic violence. Schweisthal did object to the doctor’s testimony, claiming it was “highly prejudicial.” The Indiana Supreme Court has previously determined an expert may testify about the effect of domestic violence and battered woman syndrome if it is relevant. The appeals court finds Hale’s testimony did not reveal any personal knowledge of the case and merely educated the jury about the underlying behavior pattern.

The appeals court also rejected Schweisthal’s argument that his guilty pleas to other offenses should have been given more weight in his favor during his sentencing hearing. The appeals court ruling notes the trial court considered both the mitigating and aggravating factors and found that his criminal history and violation of the terms of his release and no-contact order outweighed the mitigating factors.