Plea Under Advisement for Attempted Murder Defendant

 Starke Circuit Judge Kim Hall has taken a plea from an attempted murder defendant under advisement. Benton Christopher Howard, 42, is accused of critically stabbing Brandon Davidson at a home in the Parkview Heights area of Knox on Nov. 30, 2014. Davidson was transferred from IU Health Starke Hospital to South Bend for treatment of a wound to his heart and lung. Howard is charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery in connection with the incident. His plea is to a lesser battery offense.

Howard told Judge Hall he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the incident occurred. However, his memory of the events and witnesses is fuzzy. He claims Davidson was on a mattress inside the home drifting in and out of consciousness. Howard says he looked pale, and he thought he might be dying. He shook him and says Davidson woke up fighting. According to Howard, they tussled in the floor, and Davidson kicked him in the head several times, which is why he’s not sure what happened. Howard says he was “pretty addled” and didn’t know what else to do, so he picked a knife up from the floor and stabbed Davidson in self defense.

Under the law, self defense is not a crime. However, witnesses have offered a different account of what happened. Court documents indicate Howard believed Davidson was a “snitch” and was giving him a hard time prior to the incident. Howard’s attorney, Richard Ballard, says his client believes it’s in his best interest to plead guilty to the lesser charge rather than take his chances with a jury trial.

Judge Hall says it’s unclear whether the court can legally accept a guilty plea in a case where the defendant claims he acted in self defense. He intends to research that prior to Howard’s scheduled July 16th sentencing hearing. The judge also ordered Howard to cooperate with the probation department in their preparation of a pre-sentencing report. Davidson is also in jail, and is expected to be for quite some time. The judge stated he wants Davidson to be in court on the 16th as well.