By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — A Milford man will serve 11 years in prison after battering a jail inmate so severely that he was in the hospital for 12 days.
Jaron Wesley Wiggs, 33, 406 Lehman Drive, Milford, was charged with battery resulting in serious bodily injury, a level 5 felony; and habitual offender enhancement.
Wiggs was found guilty on both of these charges in a one-day jury trial on Wednesday, June 9. He was sentenced in Kosciusko Superior Court One on Wednesday, June 23. Judge Pro Tem Karen Springer presided over the sentence since she handled Wiggs’ jury trial.
On Oct. 9, 2020, Kosciusko County Jail officers were moving Wiggs to a holding cell in the jail. While Wiggs was being moved, a jail inmate was using a phone in the booking area.
According to court documents, Wiggs walked ahead of the jail officers and suddenly attacked the inmate, hitting him on the left side of his face. This caused the inmate’s head to hit a concrete wall in the booking area.
The inmate sustained a large loss of blood from the injuries and was rendered unconscious from the strike to the head, requiring intubation for stabilization during treatment. The inmate lost teeth in the incident and broke his jaw, requiring it to be wired shut during healing. As a result of the assault, the inmate spent 12 days in the hospital.
Security video from the jail also showed Wiggs hitting the inmate’s head. A second jail inmate who was nearby at the time of the incident said Wiggs tapped him on the shoulder before the battery and said, “Watch this.”
Wiggs has prior unrelated felony convictions, including for arson and intimidation.
In the October 2020 case, after the jury found Wiggs guilty of battery resulting in serious bodily injury, the trial entered a second phase. In this phase, jurors had to determine if Wiggs should be considered a habitual offender. If a defendant has a habitual offender status, a judge can enhance a jail or prison sentence.
As the court was beginning to give preliminary instructions to the jury regarding the habitual offender status, court security informed Judge Pro Tem Springer that Wiggs needed to be removed from the courtroom immediately due to escalating misbehavior.
According to court documents, Wiggs’ removal occurred in the jury’s presence. One court security officer testified for the state about Wiggs’ removal. He said he and another officer tried to talk to Wiggs to help him calm down but that the conversation escalated his behavior. During his removal, Wiggs made derogatory comments toward people present in the courtroom.
The second phase of the jury trial continued in Wiggs’ absence for the safety and well-being of the jury and everyone in the courtroom.
Prior to sentencing, Wiggs apologized for his actions after the jury verdict and said he is trying to better himself.
Defense Attorney Scott Reust said Wiggs has taken responsibility for his actions and would not re-offend.
Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brad Voelz noted that he’s had good conversations with Wiggs.
“He comes from a good family,” said Voelz. “But he has this impulsive volatility, sometimes an arrogant belief that the law doesn’t apply. Even while in jail, he committed a felony.”
Judge Pro Tem Springer said there were several aggravators with Wiggs’ case, including his criminal history and potential to re-offend, as well as the severe injuries the inmate sustained.
For battery resulting in serious bodily injury, Judge Pro Tem Springer sentenced Wiggs to five years in the Indiana Department of Corrections. Through the habitual offender enhancement, Wiggs was sentenced to an additional six years in prison. In total, Wiggs received an 11-year DoC sentence. He also has 239 days of jail time credit in the case.
After the sentencing, Wiggs said he intends to appeal both the conviction and sentencing. A public defender will be assigned to Wiggs’ case but may be dismissed if Wiggs finds private counsel to represent him.