KOSCIUSKO COUNTY — A charge of battery, causing serious bodily injury, a level 5 felony, against Justin Forrest Plank, 38, East NorthShore Drive, Syracuse, was dismissed four days before a three-day jury trial was to begin.
The deputy prosecuting attorney filed a motion Wednesday, Nov. 25, to dismiss charges against Plank, which was granted. The three-day jury trial in Kosciusko Superior Court 1 was slated to begin Tuesday, Dec. 1. No details as to why the charges were dropped are available.
Plank was not arrested on the date of the event, but several weeks later after the information was sent to the prosecutor’s office.
“The last 1 1/2 years has been awful,” said Plank. “How the system works baffles me,” he added, stating while he was not worried about going to trial and was actually looking forward to it, he was more upset at how the charges could be filed against him. He states he was defending himself and individuals on his own property.
Plank stated through depositions, the victim’s story was different than what police were initially told, and he had numerous witnesses collaborating what he stated occurred.
Plank, who admits he is not the best guy in the world, stated he had seven witnesses who saw the entire incident take place, including a 13-year-old who was also knocked down.
According to court documents, which lead to Plank’s arrest, police were called to Plank’s residence on July 6, 2014, for a fight in progress. When they arrived officers spoke to Timothy Schroer whose face was swollen, his left eye bruised, several teeth broken and blood was coming from his mouth. It appeared to the officer the man’s left side of his jaw was broken.
Schroer told police he was in his boat on Syracuse Lake and saw another boat with no lights on. He said he told the driver to turn the lights on and he recognized the individual as Plank, who allegedly yelled an obscenity at him.
Schroer reported he docked his boat and walked down to Plank’s home to resolve the issue. Schroer walked up to Plank in a non threatening, non-intimidating manner and Plank allegedly punched him in the face up to four times without warning. He said when he went to the ground, Plank kicked him.
However, statements from others contradicted Schroer’s report to police. Tammy Tranter, who was on her dock, stated Schroer came running up the pier and threw her on the ground. Schroer and Plank then began shoving each other, with Plank shoving Schroer in the water. When Schroer got out of the water he charged Plank, and Plank allegedly punched and kicked Schroer. Police noticed a large bruise beginning to appear on Tranter’s forearm.
Plank told police he was in his boat on the lake and the lights were not working. Schroer approached him in his boat and began yelling at him for having no lights. He docked his boat, at which time Schroer came up to him and pushed him, telling him he was going to jail. Plank then shoved Schroer in the water and when Schroer exited the water, he came at Plank again and Plank hit and kicked him.
Schroer was reportedly arrested for battery with bodily injury but the charges were later dismissed.