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Crawford man convicted of attempted escape, resisting law enforcement

Crawford man convicted of attempted escape, resisting law enforcement Crawford man convicted of attempted escape, resisting law enforcement
By Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Senior Staff Writer, [email protected]

A Crawford County Circuit Court jury convicted a local man Oct. 8 on two charges at the conclusion of a three-day trial.

Warren A. (Alex) Beals, 32, of Eckerty, was found guilty of attempted escape, a Level 4 felony, and resisting law enforcement, a Class A misdemeanor. The jury acquitted on the other four charges: escape, a Level 4 felony, battery against a public safety official, a Level 6 felony, as well as public intoxication and disorderly conduct, both Class B misdemeanors.

In a separate deliberation, the jury convicted Beals of being a habitual offender, resulting from a prior Class C felony charge for battery and a Level 6 felony charge out of Dubois County for failure to return to lawful detention.

Beals was on trial for an incident that occurred April 27 when Crawford County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Froman was transporting Beals from the Marengo firehouse to the jail. Beals opened the door of the deputy’s car and attempted to escape, according to court documents.

Froman grabbed Beals to prevent his escape, injuring his wrist and shoulder in the process. Beals was handcuffed at the time.

Beals requested a speedy trial. He was represented by attorney Nick Siler.

“I think the jury adopted my theory of the case, considering that they acquitted Alex on four of the six charges,” said Siler. “While we were especially disappointed in one of the guilty verdicts reached by the jury, after a sentencing hearing, we will evaluate our options, including a potential appeal.”

This was the first jury trial in the county since before the start of the pandemic early in 2020. It was the first case Deputy Prosecutor Parker Hudson helped argue, assisting Prosecutor Cheryl Hillenburg.

Hudson said it was a rewarding learning experience, noting convincing 12 people is much different than arguing a case before a judge. He said the state wanted to show that Beals put an officer’s life in danger.

“I’m glad 12 people agreed,” Hudson said. “I’m glad we can send that message to the community.”

COVID-19 still had an impact on how the trial unfolded. Jurors were seated in the audience area, not the jury box, to allow for social distancing. There were also four alternates instead of just two. One witness, Deputy Froman, was quarantined and testified via Zoom.

Beals’ sentence will be enhanced due to the habitual offender conviction. The typical sentence for a Level 4 felony is from two to four years; being a habitual offender increases that from six to 20 years. That means he faces a minimum of eight years and up to 32 years in jail.

Beals is scheduled to be sentenced Friday, Oct. 29.