Jury convicts Norman man on 13 counts



The trial of a Jackson County man accused of 14 charges, including burglary with a deadly weapon, came to an end Friday afternoon with a jury finding him guilty on all but one count.

The trial of Travis Michael Luedeman, 40, of Norman started Tuesday morning in Jackson Circuit Court in Brownstown.

Luedeman was arrested July 9, 2019, by police investigating two incidents involving burglaries and a man impersonating an officer. His arrest occurred after a four-hour standoff with police at his home.

On Friday afternoon, the jury convicted Luedeman on two Level 2 felonies of burglary with a deadly weapon; two Level 3 felonies of armed robbery; two Level 5 felonies of intimidation; and Level 6 felony charges of impersonating a police officer and auto theft.

Luedeman, who also was found guilty of three Class A misdemeanor counts of theft and two Class A misdemeanor counts of pointing a firearm, is scheduled to be sentenced by Jackson Circuit Court Judge Richard W. Poynter at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 28.

During closing arguments Friday morning, Chief Deputy Mark Hollingsworth outlined the evidence and testimony behind each of those counts, which stemmed from a series of events that occurred in early July 2019.

He told the jury while it was an unusual request, he thought they should find Luedeman not guilty of one burglary count because the building Luedeman took fishing poles and a tackle box from on July 1, 2019, was a shed that did not have doors.

Hollingsworth said jurors should, however, find Luedeman guilty of theft in connection with that incident.

The remaining 12 charges stemmed from incidents that occurred at separate locations July 4 and 5. On both occasions, Luedeman was found on private property by residents of the area.

Luedeman’s attorney, Brian Chastain of Corydon, said during his closing argument there was no evidence tying his client to the July 1 incident.

Although Luedeman admitted being at the scene of the incidents July 4 and July 5, there were two versions of what occurred — the state’s and Luedeman’s — Chastain said.

The incidents that led to the investigation of Luedeman’s activities were reported in the area of County Road 1250W in the Norman area, police said.

One of the incidents involved a man, later identified as Luedeman, who told a property owner he was a police officer and had permission to be on the property. Luedeman, who was described as wearing a military-style uniform with a badge, then left and the property owner found items of value missing, police said.

The second incident, investigated by county Officer J.L. McElfresh, was a report of a burglary in progress in the 4000 block of North County Road 1250W.

The complainant reported seeing a suspicious vehicle on the property of one of his neighbors and went to check it out. He said when he approached the vehicle, a man came from the back of the home, police said.

The man said he then tried to keep the suspect from leaving until police could arrive. The suspect, however, pointed a gun at the man and left in the vehicle, police said.

The complainant said he followed the man for a short time before the suspect got out of the vehicle and ran off. He was not found at the time. McElfresh recovered the vehicle, which had been stolen from the Seymour area.

The officers who went to arrest Luedeman on July 9 spotted him in the house in the 11000 block of West U.S. 50, but he failed to come outside when ordered, police reported at the time.

Luedeman instead fled to a bedroom in the house out of the sight of officers, police said.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Department Officer Zach Elliott, Lt. Adam Nicholson and Chief Deputy Dustin Steward along with Brownstown Police Department Officer Sam Hughes then set up a perimeter around the house.

Sheriff Rick Meyer arrived at the scene and contacted Detective Sgt. Stan Darlage to help obtain a search warrant for Luedeman’s home, police said.

Since Luedeman was considered to be armed and dangerous, the sheriff’s department also requested an Indiana State Police SWAT team to assist. While waiting for the SWAT team, police were able to speak with Luedeman through a public address system.

Luedeman, however, denied police’s request to surrender and said he was not coming out, police said. He later was ordered to exit the house and was told the SWAT team would enter the house if he did not.

That’s when he surrendered, police said.

Video evidence presented during the trial showed the stolen vehicle, which was a Cadillac spurt utility vehicle, at the site where the July 1 theft occurred.

Chastain said that vehicle had been at Luedeman’s house in the days leading up to the incidents he was arrested for and several people besides his client had access to the vehicle.

Chastain said police did not find a gun or the military style-uniform and that his client said he did not pull a gun on anyone during either incident, and without the use of a weapon, the 13 charges did not apply to his client.

During the state’s rebuttal of Chastain’s closing argument, Deputy Prosecutor Daniel Carnes said Luedeman, who testified Thursday, told a lot of stories that were always changing during the investigation and could not be believed as he tried to charm people with his talk.

He also said Luedeman has a history of theft convictions.

A Level 2 felony is punishable by 10 to 30 years upon conviction, while a Level 5 felony is one to six years.

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