William Gajdik is escorted out of court after learning his 148 year sentence on Tuesday.
Mike Perleberg-Eagle 99.3
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – A criminal history spanning 20 years was considered by the judge who sentenced William Gajdik to 148 years in prison.
Gajdik was given his lengthy sentence by Dearborn Circuit Court Judge James D. Humphrey on Tuesday. He was convicted by a jury in August on five felonies including Attempted Murder. Jurors also decided that Gajdik was a habitual offender, which resulted in 30 years of the 148 year sentence.
Humphrey decided that Gajdik should serve consecutively the maximum allowed under each of the six counts. Dearborn-Ohio County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard agreed.
“Mr. Gajdik deserved every one of those years. With good time credit he could be out in 70-something years,” Negangard said.
Dressed in an orange jail suit with slicked back hair and glasses, the 39-year-old sat complacent as the judge announced decade after decade to be spent behind bars.
In escaping from a prison in Nebraska and going on a cross-country crime spree, the 39-year-old made a stop in Bright in September of 2011. He burglarized T.J. Jacobs’ home on North Dearborn Road. He swiped a loaded gun from the bedroom before Jacobs confronted him. As Gajdik ran from the home, he threatened Jacobs by pointing the gun at him. Jacobs retreated and called police.
As officers began to search the area, Gajdik travelled on foot to Robert Tibbits’ home on Ruth Avenue and broke in. When the manufacturing plant worker can home that afternoon, Gajdik used the stolen gun to fire on Tibbits, striking him in the back and sending him through the home's entry doorway as Tibbits was trying to escape.
Gajdik took Tibbits’ car keys and vehicle to escape the area as the gunshot victim lay bleeding. Thanks to neighbors who heard his cries for help, Tibbits didn’t die from the gunshot. However, his life has been forever changed.
“He will be medically, physically, and mentally damaged for the rest of his life,” Humphrey said in considering the harm done to the victims as an aggravating factor in deciding the sentence.
Tibbits has undergone nearly a dozen surgeries to repair the physical damage done by the gunshot. He previously said in court he could no longer work and even had difficulty dressing himself.
“His internal organs are now held in place only by a thin layer of skin and a brace,” said Humphrey.
The judge also considered Gajdik’s lack of remorse as an aggravating factor. Following his conviction, Gajdik wrote a letter to the judge.
“This letter is an attempt to avoid responsibility for the shooting,” Humphrey said in admonishing Gajdik for the letter blaming his family and the court system for his situation.
Gajdik’s 20-year criminal history in other states was also considered an aggravator, Humphrey said.
In a letter to Humphrey prior to the August jury trial and during the first sentencing hearing September 10, Gajdik asked that the judge sentence him to death. Humphrey said he could not by law give the death sentence.
While Gajdik may be locked up with the Indiana Department of Corrections for the foreseeable future, the physical and emotional scars he left on the two direct victims, as well as northern Dearborn County that day, won’t heal soon.
“The community was terrorized. I live there, I know what the community felt,” Negangard said.
“What he did to these victims is just completely inexcusable. The man expresses no remorse. Since the sentencing all he has done is send a letter to the judge blaming everyone else for his problems.”
Gajdik can appeal his sentence within 30 days.