By Justin L. Mack and Kelly Wilkinson, IndyStar
After hearing the criminal charges against him and asking when he would be able to get a lawyer, Anthony Baumgardt asked one final question to cap a court hearing unlike any other the Boone County prosecutor had seen.
“Is the death penalty going to be seeked for this?” Baumgardt asked Judge Bruce Petit.
When told that was still being determined, the 21-year-old asked, “If I were to seek it out on my own, would that change anything? You know, enter my guilty plea now and seek the death penalty?
“I was just wondering my options, sir.”
(Learn More. Frustration and heartbreak. One of the first things Anthony Baumgardt said to police while he was being questioned at the hospital following the alleged shooting death of Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Pickett was “I shot a cop,” according to newly released details in probable cause documents. Courtesy of RTV6 The Indy Channel and YouTube. Posted on Mar 7, 2018)
Charged with the murder of Boone County Deputy Jacob Pickett, Baumgardt appeared unfazed Wednesday by the penalties a guilty verdict could bring, including death.
On the way into the courthouse, he quickly said “nope” when asked whether he was sorry for what had occurred.
He said he had “no remorse” for what happened to the 34-year-old deputy, husband and father of two young children who with his K-9 was chasing Baumgardt moments before being shot.
Baumgardt told reporters Wednesday that he “didn’t want to get bit by a dog.”
Someone in Baumgardt’s security detail, which was made up of more than a dozen officers and included Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen, said that the K-9 wasn’t just a dog. He was Pickett’s partner, Brik.
“Well, I didn’t want to get bit by Brik,” Baumgardt flatly responded.
An emotional Sheriff Mike Nielsen explains how it made him feel to hear Baumgardt say that he had no remorse for what happened to Jacob Pickett. pic.twitter.com/IQWT74g5NL
— Justin L. Mack (@justinlmack) March 7, 2018
The incident that led to Wednesday’s hearing unfolded Friday morning in the 1400 block of Yates Street when Lebanon police officers went to serve an unrelated arrest warrant.
Court documents say Baumgardt shot and fatally wounded Pickett while trying to evade police on foot after a car chase. Baumgardt was shot by other officers, but his injuries were not life-threatening.
After his arrest he told officers he shot the deputy because he didn’t want to go back to jail, court documents say. Baumgardt had a warrant out for his arrest on a theft charge.
In the moments leading up to his initial court appearance Wednesday, Baumgardt seemed agitated and uninterested in the proceedings.
His disheveled hair covered a part of his face, and he squinted as he swiveled around in his chair to study the faces of people in the courtroom.
As the clock hit 1 p.m., Baumgardt let out a loud yawn and asked what time it was. At one point, the suspect sat with his mouth hanging open and locked eyes with Nielsen, who had performed CPR on Pickett at the scene of the shooting.
“Sheriff, sheriff,” Baumgardt called out. “Can I ask you one question?”
Getting no response from anyone in the room following his multiple outbursts, Baumgardt clinched his jaw, nodded his head and rolled his eyes before straightening up in his chair.
He sat alone at a table placed across the room from a table occupied by Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer.
Following the hearing, Meyer drew comparisons between Baumgardt and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who also sought the death penalty.
“I’ve heard some defendants say some strange things in court, but this one … no, I can’t say I’ve ever really experienced anything of that sort under the circumstances he faces,” Meyer said.
“That was bizarre.”
Meyer said that making the decision whether to pursue the death penalty is a top priority and that Baumgardt’s behavior Wednesday may have altered the time frame.
“It makes things more difficult from my perspective because I have to look at these factors and weigh them in an objective manner. … It is hard to do. It is hard to shut off Todd Meyer as a person and get into the decision making process as a prosecutor,” he said. “But after 16 years of doing this job I think I’ve mastered that.
“The decision may end up coming sooner than I expected.”
Nielsen grew emotional when discussing Baumgardt’s expression of no remorse.
“I don’t think I can express what that means because that was a senseless death,” Nielsen said.
“It was a senseless shooting that didn’t have to happen, and he doesn’t care that it happened. And that hurt deep inside, but we move on.”
(Anthony Baumgardt, the suspect accused of shooting and killing Deputy Jacob Pickett, said he has “no remorse” for what happened, and that he did it because he “didn’t want to get bit by a dog. Courtesy of RTV6 The Indy Channel and YouTube. Posted on Mar 7, 2018)
Nielsen said that he and his fellow law enforcement officers will not let the pain or the personal feelings get in the way of Pickett and his loved ones getting justice for the deputy’s death.
“It makes me angry. … I think we all have very high emotions right now. We have to keep those emotions in check, and we have to let justice run its course,” he said. “I will not jeopardize that in any way, shape or form.”
Baumgardt was charged with a felony count of murder, two felony counts of possession of methamphetamine, a felony and misdemeanor count of carrying a handgun without a license, two misdemeanor counts of possession of marijuana, and a misdemeanor count of resisting law enforcement.
He is being held without bond in the Hamilton County Jail. A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for May 16. A jury trial has been scheduled for July 31.
(Dep. Jacob Pickett was a husband and father of two boys. He was at a school showing kids his K9 Brick before the shooting happened. Courtesy of RTV6 The Indy Channel and YouTube. Posted on Mar 2, 2018)
Also charged in connection to the case is John D. Baldwin Jr., 28, who was driving the vehicle fleeing from police.
He faces a felony charge of resisting law enforcement as well as misdemeanor charges of resisting law enforcement, leaving the scene of an accident and criminal recklessness.
The police pursuit began Friday when officers recognized Baldwin.
They knew there was a warrant for his arrest on a probation violation tied to a charge of possession of a syringe.
Uncharged was 55-year-old John Baldwin Sr., who was with the two men but at some point fled on foot before Pickett was killed.
From Indiana State Police:
Deputy Pickett, a Brownsburg Indiana native and 2002 graduate of Brownsburg High School has been employed by the Boone County Sheriff’s Office since July of 2015.
Prior to his work with BCSO he served as a deputy for the Tipton County Sheriff’s Department from November of 2013 until July of 2015. Deputy Pickett also served as a jailer at the Marion County Jail from 2010 until 2013.
Deputy Pickett was the lead K9 handler for the Boone County Sheriff’s Office and patrolled with his partner Brick for more than 2 years.
Deputy Jacob Pickett and his family continue to selflessly serve even after his fatal wound by donating his organs.
The last person killed in the line of duty from the Boone County Sheriff’s Office was Sheriff John Pepper in 1935.
Editor’s note: Our thoughts and prayers are with Deputy Pickett’s family, both blood and blue. Your life mattered Sir. Rest in peace.