In Hamilton Superior Court No. 3 on January 7th, Maxwell Hunt Winkler withdrew his previously entered plea of not guilty and entered a plea of Guilty But Mentally Ill to the offense of Murder. Mr. Winkler also entered an admission to the State's Request for Firearm Enhancement.
Mr. Winkler and the State of Indiana tendered a negotiated plea agreement to the Court at the guilty plea hearing. The agreement provides that Mr. Winkler would enter a plea of guilty but mentally ill to the charge of Count 1: Murder and an admission to the Request for Firearm Enhancement. The agreement further provides that, should the Court accept the agreement, Mr. Winkler's sentence on the Murder count would be sixty-five (65) years, with all of that time to be served in the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC). The Request for Firearm Enhancement would add twenty (20) years, of which fifteen (15) years would be executed and served in IDOC and five (5) years would be suspended to five (5) years of probation. Accordingly, the total sentence would be eighty-five (85) years with eighty (80) years executed and served in prison and five (5) years suspended to probation. Should the agreement be accepted by the Court, the State's Request for Life Imprisonment Without Parole would be withdrawn.
By statute, "[a] person who commits murder shall be imprisoned for a fixed term of between forty-five (45) and sixty-five (65) years, with the advisory sentence being fifty-five (55) years." Ind. Code § 35-50-2-3(a). The firearm enhancement statute provides for "an additional fixed term of imprisonment of between five (5) years and twenty (20) years." Ind. Code § 35-50-2-11(g).
A plea of guilty but mentally ill means that the person suffered from a mental illness at the time of the offense but that the condition did not render the person unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of the conduct at the time of the offense. See Ind. Code §§ 35-36-2, 35-41-3-6. Someone found to be guilty but mentally ill who is then sentenced to serve prison time in IDOC is further evaluated and treated in such a manner as is psychiatrically indicated for the person's mental illness; that treatment is provided by either IDOC or the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction. See Ind. Code § 35-36-2-5(c).
A hearing for the Court to consider the plea agreement, Winkler's plea, and his potential sentence has been set for Friday, February 5, 2016 at 2:15 p.m.
Mr. Winkler remains held at the Hamilton County Jail.
The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. In this case, the Defendant has merely entered a plea of guilty but mentally ill; he must still be afforded his presumption of innocence until and unless a conviction is entered -- be it through trial or a court-accepted admission.
The Prosecuting Attorney will have no further comment on this case until the sentencing hearing has concluded.