News and Tribune

August 15, 2013

Plea deal reached in New Albany attempted murder case

Man faces 20 years in prison for Rustic Frog altercation

By GARY POPP
gary.popp@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — A Harrison County man faces 20 years in prison after reaching a preliminary plea agreement stemming from an altercation in the parking lot of a New Albany strip club in December.

After the incident, John J. Arnold IV, 30, Elizabeth, was charged with attempted murder, three counts of criminal recklessness and failure to stop after an accident resulting in bodily injury as well as habitual offender status — all felonies.

Through the plea agreement, filed last week, the attempted murder charge and three failure to stop after accident charges were dismissed.

Arnold has plead guilty to the three counts of criminal recklessness. Each of the charges carries an 8-year prison sentence, all of which will run concurrently.

The 8-year sentence was increased by an additional 12 years because of the habitual offender charge, resulting in a total 20-year sentence in state prison.

Arnold is accused of striking — and injuring — three pedestrians with his Ford F-150 pickup truck in the parking lot of the Rustic Frog strip club in the early morning hours of Dec. 8.

Four days after the incident, Arnold was placed under a $500,000 court-cash bond during a proceeding in Floyd County Circuit Court.

According to Floyd County Jail officials, Arnold was held in the facility for nearly four months after his arrest on the day of the incident.

A $50,000 payment was made in early April, leading to Arnold’s release from the Floyd County Jail on April 5.

The plea agreement will not become an official document until a sentencing hearing, scheduled for Sept. 6, is held.



BACK STORY

According to a report from the New Albany Police Department, officers responded to a personal injury call at the Rustic Frog at 3:10 a.m. on Dec. 8, where they found three people suffering from injuries.

The incident began when Arnold went inside the strip club and became mad when an employee of the club told him it was time to leave. Arnold began arguing with the employee outside the club and was overheard telling the employee that he was going to use his truck to kill him, according to the report.

The employee told police that Arnold got in his truck and drove it toward the club, which is when he hit a bystander. Arnold then put the truck in reverse and hit two more people, the report stated.

When New Albany police arrived at the club, Arnold had already left. Police were able to run Arnold’s information and determine he owned a white Ford F-150 pickup. New Albany police contacted Harrison County sheriff’s deputies to check Arnold’s address, where deputies found him and his truck at around 5:45 a.m.

New Albany police went to Arnold’s home and found his truck with fresh damage to its front end that was consistent with the incident at the Rustic Frog.

Arnold told police he had been in New Albany earlier and dropped off his friends at a restaurant on State Street and then went home to sleep. When police told Arnold his driver’s license had been scanned at the Rustic Frog and his truck had been seen there, he replied, ‘If I was there, I don’t remember,” according to the report.

Arnold admitted to drinking prior in the evening. A portable breath test was given at his home, which showed Arnold had a blood alcohol content of .13. Police impounded Arnold’s truck and he was taken to the Floyd County Jail.