Victim’s plea keeps man out of prison

A 20-year-old Columbus man who admitted battering the woman carrying his child will stay out of prison — and he has the victim to thank for it.

Bartholomew Circuit Court records will show that Michael W. Nida II, who pleaded guilty Aug. 10 to battery resulting in bodily injury to a pregnant woman, a Level 5 felony, was sentenced to almost five years behind bars.

But under terms laid out by Judge Stephen Heimann, the Forest Drive resident will instead be required to spend the next seven months in the Bartholomew County Jail.

After completing his jail time, Nida will be on either work release or home detention for a year, followed by three years of probation, Heimann said.

During a Thursday hearing, the defendant admitted under oath that he had committed a number of violent acts in recent years, disregarded protective orders and committed numerous probation violations.

Nida also testified that while he’s been provided anger management therapy in the past, he “never took it to heart.”

But the judge pointed out that his 19-year-old girlfriend, who is expected to give birth shortly before Christmas, stated she wants to reunite with her abuser and requested the protective order against him be lifted.

“If it hadn’t been for this victim’s statement, you would not be staying in our local community,” Heimann told the defendant during the hearing.

Last spring, the girlfriend was attempting to have Nida served with a protective order, but police were unable to locate him, according to a probable-cause affidavit filed by Bartholomew County Sheriff’s detective Jason Lancaster.

However, when she arrived at her home northeast of Burnsville on June 5, Nida was waiting for her and began asking who wanted him to stay away from her, the affidavit stated.

Nida said the two needed to be together because she was expecting their child, Lancaster wrote.

As the woman protested, Nida pushed her down on a bed, got on top of her, placed his knee on her abdomen and began choking her, the affidavit stated.

The girlfriend had told investigators she was unable to breathe until Nida released her and went to the kitchen and brought back a knife, Bartholomew County Deputy Prosecutor Kathleen Burns said.

Nida then placed the knife near his girlfriend’s throat and threatened to kill her if she didn’t stop yelling and screaming, Lancaster wrote.

That was the only part of the detective’s account that Nida denied under oath. He testified he was only threatening to use the knife to break her cellphone. Instead, Nida took the girlfriend’s phone with him to keep her from calling police, he testified.

While police reports indicate the woman sustained cuts and bruises, they also state neither the girlfriend nor her unborn child were seriously injured.

“I let my anger get the best of me,” Nida said after admitting he came to the house after his girlfriend told him over the telephone to keep away. “I should have stayed home.”

Following an investigation by the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, Nida was arrested five days after the incident at a friend’s home in Columbus and has remained in jail ever since, court records state.

In addition to the charge he pleaded guilty to, Nida was also charged with intimidation, strangulation and interference with the reporting of a crime.

But those two felonies and one misdemeanor were dropped in exchange for his guilty plea on the battery charge in August.

Nida, who was represented by attorney and family member James Shoaf, told Heimann he has a construction job waiting for him when he gets out of jail, so he can provide the woman and their child with financial support.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.