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June 14, 2016 • Headline News
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Osgood pilot hurt when plane crashes

An Osgood pilot was seriously injured after he crashed his small plane Wednesday, just before noon, near the Batesville airport. According to state police, the homemade ultralight aircraft was piloted by Terry C. Fruchtnicht, 50. He took off from the airport and soon experienced a mechanical problem. The aircraft went down in a heavily wooded area near Three Mile and Enochsburg roads at 11:45 a.m.

Plane crash near Batesville airportFruchtnicht was the lone occupant of the aircraft. He was trapped in the aircraft for approximately 30 minutes while emergency crews got to him and were able to remove him from the aircraft. Fruchtnicht was conscious and alert at the scene.  He was flown by medical helicopter to the University of Cincinnati Hospital for treatment of his injuries. As is typical in these types of investigations, the Federal Aviation Administration was contacted. The FAA sent investigators to the scene to conduct their investigation into the cause of the crash. Investigators spent approximately five hours at the scene. The investigation is ongoing.

The Indiana State Police and the FAA were assisted by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, the Batesville Police Department, Batesville Fire Department, and Batesville EMS.

Jury says Moores Hill man guilty on all counts

Mary Mattingly

After hearing from the defendant, victim and 11 other witnesses over four days of testimony, the jury took just under two hours to convict a Moores Hill man of three felonies, including attempted murder. William “Billy” Russell, 46, is facing between 20 and 40 years for the three felony offenses. Aggravated battery and battery with a deadly weapon were the other charges, along with a misdemeanor of carrying a gun without a permit.

Several members of his family were at circuit court when the verdict was read around 10:30 p.m. Thursday, June 9, and so was the shooting victim Jonathan Keith Smith of Milan and his wife and daughter. Sentencing by Circuit Court Judge Ryan King will be July 20. Russell remains in the county jail until then, where he has been since he turned himself in Sept. 6, 2015.

The issue for the jury to decide wasn’t if he had shot Keith Smith — Russell admitted on the stand that he had — but what was his intent and whether it was self-defense. It was an all or nothing deal; had the jury thought the shooting was in self defense, the verdict would have been not guilty. Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel presented the case for the state with assistance by Chief Prosecutor Shane Tucker. They called nine witnesses over three days and played several recorded phone calls from Russell while in jail.

Russell testifies

Russell’s attorney, Ross Thomas of Indianapolis called the defendant to the witness stand on Thursday and he testified for about seven hours, with breaks in between. The defendant described at length his disability, of a broken spine that occurred on a construction job on Feb. 4, 2004. He has since had four surgeries, was immobile for two years, and was on pain medication for several years. He also showed the jurors his back scars from surgery. Because of spinal nerve damage Russell explained that he can randomly fall and be paralyzed. “It’s happened 100s of times,” he told the jury, the last episode being at a Wal-Mart in 2013 and resulted in paralysis for three days. He’s has since trained himself how to turn, sit, sleep and move to avoid such incidents, he said. Russell added that he was told by doctors, “that I am an accident away from being paralyzed forever.” This became important because it’s why he said when he was threatened by Smith with bodily injury that he reached for his gun in his truck. Smith, 37, was shot twice, the bullets grazing his arm, hand and shoulder, and one bullet remains lodged in his chest. The state summoned Smith to testify earlier last week.

It all started from a Friday night gathering at 40-year-old Dennis Ryker’s parents home in Milan on Sept. 4, 2015. They came to play pool, listen to music and drink. Russell, a good friend of Ryker’s, was a regular there on Fridays. That night, Patrick Hurd, 28, was there, and Smith came after his 2nd shift job, and after much drinking, all four, including Ryker and Russell, left to get something to eat at DJ’s Bar in Milan. It was near 2:30 a.m. so the kitchen was closed. After more drinks, they left the bar from the side door, and that’s when Smith started talking loudly about a drunk man in the bar. Russell said as he was getting in his Blazer, he told him to shut up and “stop being a (expletive) and get in the car.” He said Smith was about five feet away from him. Smith took offense and threatened him, saying he was going to knock out his teeth, and had raised his fist. That’s when Russell reached for his loaded gun on the floorboard, and shot him twice. “Did you intend to kill him?” Thomas asked the defendant. ”No.” “Why the gun?” he replied, “I wanted to make him stop.” He was worried for his own safety and potential for serious injury, he reiterated.

Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel asked why he didn’t say he was kidding, or sit in the car and shut the door if he felt threatened. “I didn’t think about it. It just happened,” Russell replied. A recorded phone call in jail was also played as evidence from the State and when Russell’s 27-year-old fiancé asked why he shot Smith, he again said, “I don’t know. It just happened.” And, he also said in the phone call, “Three (expletive) seconds. I live it in my head every day.” Russell testified that he took off in the Blazer after he shot Smith, went to his son’s nearby apartment but left on foot toward the lake by the golf course. He was familiar with it because he used to live nearby. He said he walked into the water to drown himself because he had just shot a man. But the water wasn’t deep and he walked across to the woods. That’s where he stayed for almost two days while a massive manhunt was underway. He turned himself in after contacting his best friend early Sunday morning, and they took him to Ohio to his sister’s home where he then found a lawyer and turned himself in to the county jail.

Closing arguments
The attorneys both gave 50 minute closing arguments Thursday evening. Hertel honed in the fact that there were other avenues of choice he could have made than to pull out a loaded 9 millimeter handgun and pull the trigger twice. Russell admitted he was intoxicated and that alcohol impaired his judgment. “If you carry a loaded gun you’d better think what could happen,” he told Ripley Publishing and mentioned at the trial. In his closing statements, the defense attorney pushed the relatively new Indiana Stand Your Ground law, which basically allows a person to act if they feel threatened on their property or person. Hertel doesn’t have a problem with that law. “As a prosecuting attorney or a citizen of Ripley County, we do have the right to defend ourselves and property, but the use of deadly force with a gun is a last resort,” he said afterward. An appeal is usually standard in such level 1 felony cases, according to Hertel. Hertel also said he and Detective Kip Main will consider bringing other charges of those involved in helping Russell the day before he turned himself in after the shooting.

Local Bulletin Board

Applications will be available starting Monday, June 13. The deadline to turn in the application will be Friday, August 5
Tyson Fund grant applications available
Many years ago, before Jim Tyson passed away, he wanted to set up a system to perpetually assist the residents in Versailles with things that might otherwise increase their taxes. He decided that he would set up a trust so that groups that are nonprofit and hold an IRS 501c (3) or (4) exemption could request funds to help them out with projects that would otherwise fall on the taxpayers in the Versailles area! For more information about the Tyson Fund, eligibility and how to apply read page 2 of the Osgood Journal dated June 14.

Contest set for July 17
Applications available for county queen contest
The Ripley County Queen Contest is set for July 17. To enter the pageant, contestants must be 16 years old and cannot be over 21 by the time of the 4-H fair for this year, which starts July 23. Read the rules and more details on page 2 of the Osgood Journal dated May 31.

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