man found not competent to stand trial
James L. Fernbach Jr., 32, of Batesville,
will not stand trial on the Attempted Murder charges that have
been filed against him in Ripley County Circuit Court.
While trial was set to begin October 26, instead a hearing was
held regarding the competency of the defendant on that day. The
hearing was closed to the public as doctors testified about Fernbachs
state of mind.
Judge Carl Taul made the ruling with the evidence presented. In
a filed document it reads, The defendant presently does
not have comprehension sufficient to understand the nature of
this criminal action against him and to make a defense thereto.
The court records reflect that trial proceedings against Fernbach
are delayed with the defendant being remanded to the Department
of Mental Health, State of Indiana to be housed in an appropriate
In a court document entitled Confinement Authority - Lacking
Ability to Understand and Assist and filed November 2, it
noted that the state hospital where Fernbach will be kept must
notify the court if the defendants ability to understand
the proceedings and assist in the preparation of his defense,
Fernbachs mental state will be monitored. If he reaches
a point where he is certified to have the ability to understand
court proceedings against him, he will be brought to trial at
that time. Until then, he will remain in a state mental facility.
At this point there is some security, however, there is
no closure, commented Prosecutor Ric Hertel. He further
noted, In my time in the prosecutors office I have
found that some closure is critical to the healing process especially
in a case of this magnitude. He noted that he had concerns
for the injured - the two men who were shot - as well as their
On April 4 Fernbach himself called 911 telling them he had shot
someone, according to Ripley Publishing Co. files.
Fernbach had allegedly shot two men in the parking lot of the
Marathon Gas Station, or more commonly known as the Day &
Nite East on Hwy 46 in Batesville.
A store clerk told the media the defendant was a regular customer
and she hadnt noticed anything different about him that
day. However, when he exited the store, he allegedly shot Phillip
Ray Cruser, 56, of Westport, as his wife looked on. Then Benjamin
Dick, 26, of Batesville, was also shot when he struggled with
Fernbach after seeing him shoot Cruser.
Fernbach then drove to his home on County Road 1150 North, called
911, and was taken into custody shortly after the shooting incident
In an Initial Hearing held April 7 Ripley County Prosecutor Ric
Hertel petitioned the court to set the bail for Fernbach at $2M.
He described the defendant as a danger not only to the individuals
who were shot, but the community at large. Investigators
did not know if the defendant even knew the victims.
At the Initial Hearing, Judge Carl Taul read the rules of the
court proceedings and asked Fernbach for comment on the bail that
was set. Fernbachs reply was, Im glad nobodys
dead, killed, or hurt...it wasnt something I planned.
Again the judge asked him if he understood the bail. Fernbach
said, Im fine with that, I couldnt post that
anyway. He has remained incarcerated since that hearing.
Prosecutor Hertel noted that while he doesnt always agree
with the way laws are written, he is bound to follow them. His
greatest concern is for the victims in this case.