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February 16, 2013

Buza guilty of attempted murder

Jury deliberates for three hours before returning verdict

A Parke County jury has convicted Zachary Buza of attempted murder of an Indiana State Police trooper during a three-hour standoff on July 22, 2012 in Rosedale.

After about three hours of deliberation, the jury also convicted Buza, 20, of Terre Haute, of aggravated battery, a class-B felony, two counts of criminal recklessness, a class-C felony, and misdemeanor battery resulting in bodily injury.

Sentencing for Buza is set for March 14 in Parke Circuit Court.

Parke County Prosecutor Steven Cvengros declined to comment following the trial, except to thank the jury.

Buza was arrested at the conclusion of the standoff in which he fired three shots at a marked ISP car driven by trooper Michael Organ, who had responded to a report of a domestic dispute at a residence on Main Street in Rosedale.

Deputy Town Marshall Kevin Bratcher also responded to the scene and took cover with Organ behind the patrol car after Buza broke out a bathroom window in the home and began firing a rifle at the officers.

The jury returned a not-guilty verdict on a charge of aggravated battery related to injuries to Bratcher, who was struck by shrapnel from the gunfire. The jury also found Buza not-guilty of the charge of strangulation, related to his actions with his girlfriend.

The 12-person jury heard testimony Friday from Buza, who took the witness stand in his own defense during the final day of the week-long trial. The defendant said he only remembers parts of the incidents that occurred on that hot summer day.

Buza admitted that he had consumed vodka and became intoxicated while he was working that day at a property near Rosedale. He said he did not remember returning to the Rosedale residence where his girlfriend, Abigail Lowe, lived with her parents, and where he had also resided for the previous three weeks.

But Buza said he did remember getting into an argument with his girlfriend’s father, and he remembered being hit in the head with a baseball bat by the older man.

Defense attorney Jim Bruner told the jury in closing arguments that Buza was upset by the altercation, and that when the young man grabbed his rifle and fired out the window, he may have been thinking that he was firing at his girlfriend’s father.

Buza will return to the court for sentencing in March. In the meantime, he remains housed at the Parke County Jail in Rockville.


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