News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 15, 2013

Friends come to Buza’s defense

Parke County trial expected to wrap up today

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Friends of Zachary Buza on Thursday denied in court that he was violent or threatening when they saw him on July  22, 2012, but they acknowledged his face was injured and bloody and that he was upset because of a violent domestic encounter.

As an attempted murder trial against Buza continued in Parke Circuit Court at Rockville, defense attorney Jim Bruner called multiple witnesses who said they traveled from Clinton to Rosedale after being summoned there by Buza’s girlfriend.

Buza has been charged with seven felony counts, including attempted murder of a police officer, attempted voluntary manslaughter, aggravated battery, criminal recklessness and strangulation in connection with a domestic altercation that escalated into gunfire, and then into a three-hour standoff with police.

Buza’s mother, Carolyn Miller, testified that her son had often gone shooting with his stepfather, who had given Buza the World War II-era gun used in an incident that led to charges against her son.

Buza’s friends Kaitlynn Thomas, Michael Johnson, Melissa Johnson and Tyler Vandevender recalled to the jury that Buza had blood on his face; that his girlfriend, Abigail Lowe, was upset and crying; and that her father, Rodney Lowe, was having heart problems when they arrived at the Lowe home on Main Street.

Shortly after the friends entered the Lowe residence, they testified, police arrived in response to 911 calls requesting assistance. The jury heard two of the friends state that they drove down the street to get gasoline. Other friends said they went to the next door neighbor’s house with the Lowes. Some of the friends reported hearing gunfire at the Lowes’ house after police arrived, but they said they were unsure who fired the first shots.

The prosecution rested its case after a morning of testimony by police and a review of a videotaped interview in which Buza told Indiana State Police detectives that he knew there was a likelihood that shooting at police could injure or kill an officer that day.

The jury also heard a taped conversation between Buza and his mother during a visitation at the Parke County Jail in which she told her son that he could “shoot back” if he feared for his life.

As the trial approached its fifth day, Bruner told Judge Sam Swaim he plans to have an expert witness testify this morning.

Closing arguments are expected this afternoon, to be followed by jury deliberations.