(Batesville, Ind.) - A Batesville man now faces up to 100 years in prison after a jury found him guilty but mentally ill Tuesday.
James Fernbach, 34, was on trial in Ripley Circuit Court for two counts of Attempted Murder. After closing arguments in the week-long trial were made Tuesday morning, jurors deliberated for three hours before returning the verdict that afternoon.
James A. Fernbach, Jr.
Ripley County Jail
Fernbach shot two other men in the parking lot at the Batesville Food Mart April 4, 2009. He walked up to a parked pickup truck and fired, hitting 58-year-old Phillip Cruser, of Westport, Ind. in the head as he sat in the drivers seat next to his wife, Roberta.
Benjamin Dick, of Batesville, witnessed the attack nearby and got into a struggle with Fernbach. Dick would take a bullet to his hand before Fernbach fled home where he called police to report himself as the shooter.
Now, Phillip Cruser is permanently disabled from the gunshot.
Throughout the trial, Fernbach’s defense tried to paint a picture that he was mentally ill and was not aware at the time the shooting was wrong.
“We certainly have compassion toward mentally ill people, but there has to be some accountability. The jury said he knew the difference between right and wrong,” Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel told the Batesville Herald-Tribune following the trial.
Sentencing will be announced by Ripley Circuit Court Judge Carl Taul on Feb.15 at 2:00 p.m. Fernbach faces 20 to 50 years behind bars for each count. He will likely receive psychiatric help while incarcerated.