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Guilty verdict returned in murder trial

Guilty verdict returned in murder trial Guilty verdict returned in murder trial
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]

After deliberating about an hour, a jury returned a verdict of guilty in the murder trial of Christian Pittman.

Pittman was found guilty of robbery, felony murder and fleeing the scene of an accident in regard to the night of Feb. 10, 2020, when Pittman, Dalton Madley and Sam Smith went to purchase marijuana from Christina Grimsley, who died after being dragged by a pick-up truck driven by Pittman.

“Was there a smoking gun?” Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk asked the 12-member jury last Tuesday in his closing argument in the State of Indiana v. Christian Pitt-man trial. “Perhaps not, but there was a white Ford Ranger and, as Christina Grimsley fell to her death from it, the driver continued to speed up and drive away. That driver was Christian Pittman.”

In Pittman’s defense, attorney Bart Betteau asked the jury to examine if there was enough evidence to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Pittman was the cause of her death.

“I ask you all to consider that if this was your child in this situation, do you believe they would deserve up to 107 years in prison for what took place that night?” Betteau asked of the jury.

He argued that because there was no accident reconstruction done, there is no credible way to know the facts of that night. He also explained there is a difference between taking something and keeping something, stating there was no proof Pittman was part of any plan to take the drugs from Grimsley by force.

He also said the two others in the truck that night — Madley and Smith — were not credible sources as they had both lied to the investigation team prior to this trial that began May 24.

However, Schalk said if the jury was looking for an elaborate and orchestrated plan, this wasn’t the case for that, and, while there is no gun or knife involved, there was a truck that could get them away. The prosecutor encouraged the jury to keep their eye on the ball in this situation because the small details were not what mattered.

“All life, no matter how flawed, is worth something,” Schalk said. “And Christian robbed Christina Grimsley of hers. Fairytale endings don’t come out of this courtroom, but I believe evidence presents no other conclusion than that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

After both sides completed their closing statements, the jury received instructions on deliberations and evidence pertaining to the case. The 12 members of the jury notified the court in about an hour that it had reached a verdict.

The sentencing phase for Pittman was to begin yesterday (Tuesday) but was postponed until next week.