Miami Correctional Facility Inmate Getting New Trial

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BUNKER HILL – An inmate at Miami Correctional Facility, who said he was using self-defense when he punched and injured a prison guard who pushed him, is getting a new trial. In February 2018, Michael Hickingbottom was found guilty by a jury of battery resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer, a Level 5 felony. Hickingbottom was sentenced to six years in prison. But on Monday, the Indiana Court of Appeals called for a new trial after ruling Miami Superior Court Judge David Grund abused his discretion when he denied Hickingbottom’s motion for mistrial. That motion was based on the failure of prosecutors to produce the Indiana Department of Correction manual that contains policies and procedures on the use of force by DOC officers. Hickingbottom asserted that, without the manual, he was not able to properly cross-examine the training coordinator as to whether DOC Officer Larrie Fleenor had acted improperly during the altercation. He claimed he was, therefore, unable to adequately prepare a defense and was being denied a fair trial, but the trial court denied Hickingbottom’s motion for mistrial. But the appeals court on Monday said that not providing the manual “affected the outcome of Hickingbottom’s trial and undermined confidence in the outcome.” The court has now ordered a new trial with instructions the DOC shall produce the manual containing its policies and procedures pertaining to the use of force by DOC officers.