BOONE COUNTY, Ind. – Anthony Baumgardt will spend the rest of his life in prison without the chance of parole for murdering Boone County Deputy Jake Pickett in March 2018.
Baumgardt changed his plea to guilty in the case to avoid the death penalty.
Prosecutors were seeking the death penalty and Baumgardt originally asked for the death sentence. His case was set to go to trial next year. In April 2019, the plea deal was announced by Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen.
"He got what he deserved today. In my opinion, he’s one of the most evil people that are walking the face of this earth. We’ll never forget Jake, but we have to get through this day and there was justice done today for the community, for Jake, that was today was about," said Sheriff Nielsen, “Moving on now, we see that there’s a lot more good than there is evil in this world. We saw this community come together.”
Baumgardt is accused of killing Deputy Jake Pickett during a chase in March 2018. The Lebanon Police Department was serving an arrest warrant. While there, they spotted another wanted man who then drove off with Baumgardt.
During the car chase, the vehicle crashed and Baumgardt got out and ran away from the scene. Pickett and his K9 partner, Brik, joined in the chase after Baumgardt.
Investigators say Baumgardt told them he fired at Pickett because he didn’t want to get bitten by Brik. He told reporters during his initial he had, “no remorse,” and said, “I’m not sorry.”
Brent Westerfeld who represents Baumgardt, says the sentencing is a sad day because not only is Officer Pickett gone, but another individual is going to prison for the rest of his life.
“He is sorry for what’s occurred," said Westerfeld, "He realizes the harm, the loss that resulted from his actions and he took responsibility for that today.”
Baumgardt faced charges of murder, resisting law enforcement and carrying a handgun without a license.
Jen Pickett, Jake’s wife, and Jen’s brother, Jeremy Lindstrom, gave victim impact statements during the sentencing hearing. They released those statements to the public, and you can read them in their entirety below.
Statement from Jen Pickett
I do not believe that you deserve a single word from me, however, I will not allow you to stand in this courtroom without hearing this message. It is impossible to put into words how our lives have changed since you murdered Jake. But this I can say confidently…I wholeheartedly agree with the plea agreement of life in prison without parole for many reasons. First of all, I have a core belief that no human being has the right to take another human being's life. This belief alone separates me from you. Secondly, I will not allow this single, selfish action to define Jake's life, my life, or the lives of our children. That shot you knowingly turned and fired that stole Jake from us is only one horrific, traumatic part of our story, but it will not be the whole story. When I think of our children's future and the future that you stole from them, I will not allow you to take up any more of their lives with a death sentence that will drag on for 20-30 years with frequent hearings that will constantly reopen the wound you created. My boys deserve better. I deserve better. And you do not deserve one more minute of our time or energy.
You have stolen a future that was promised to us. You have stolen a father from two little boys. We promised to be a family to them and in one selfish act, you robbed them of a lifetime of happiness with their daddy. You have stolen their innocence. They now believe this world is full of evil murderers like you. Daily routines such as car rides to sporting events and bedtimes include conversations I should never have to have with children who recall graphic details of their father’s death…details that include images of the bandage around Jake's head, the bruising of his eyes, and the stillness of his body in the hospital bed as he laid there on life support. We talk through nightmares about bad guys shooting at the house and at them. We talk through the fear they have that our dear friends who work in law enforcement will be shot and killed like their daddy. I now answer questions like "How many times was Daddy shot?" and “Mommy, will you keep me safe so no one shoots me?” I am left trying to understand when my
little boy says he doesn't like Jesus and God because Jesus and God get to be with the Daddy he desperately wants to spend time with. You see, not only was my best friend, my husband, and the father of my children killed that day but for those 2 boys, their sense of safety was shattered. You have robbed them of the freedom to be children who believe the world is safe.
The last year of our lives has been consumed with a grief that sometimes feels unbearable. I attend counseling to try to process something I cannot really even begin to understand. And now I am both mom and dad and walk this parenting path alone. I am the one who is left to guide my boys on a journey none of us should even be on.
Your cowardly, impulsive action took years away from a man who deserved so many more. You took away family vacations. You took away playing catch in the backyard. You took away driving lessons and father/son trips and the feeling they would have had on graduation day looking out at a man who believed from the beginning they would succeed. You took away the opportunity for Jake to teach them how to ride their bikes. You took away the opportunity for Jake to teach his sons how to treat others, how to be a gentleman and how to be a good husband. Your action created a domino effect that has forever changed the trajectory of the lives of two little boys who now seem to be experiencing an alternate timeline.
But here is what you can never take from them. You cannot take their ability to rise up…and they will. They will succeed. They will move through the tragedy and heartache you created and will do so with courage and grace. They will carry these “should’ve beens” and move forward alongside a fierce mama who regretfully has accepted a challenge no mother wants to accept. I will guarantee my children have every opportunity to move forward, always remembering the man Jake was and would have been. Jacob selflessly loved others, served others and cared for others. We will live the way Jake taught us because you cannot steal his legacy.
Statement from Jeremy Lindstrom
Jacob Pickett was a Deputy Sheriff for Boone County, a loving husband, and a father to two young sons, age 3 and 4 when he was murdered by shooter.
In just those few seconds that early morning in March 2018, the shooter pulled his gun and fired 3 shots at Jake and Brik, one of them striking and taking Jake's life. He didn’t just shoot and kill a Sheriff's Deputy that day, he also killed Jake's family, and this death would shatter the lives of Jake's friends, family, co-workers and community.
Jake loved to help people and animals. He had a way of making everyone around him feel special.
One of the great things about Jake was his genuine concern for our world. Service to others was one of Jake's great passions and he was constantly assisting those in need. He would routinely pick up stray animals when the opportunity would present itself and bring them home until their owners could be found, and on numerous occasions they would become another one of the household pets.
The lost opportunities of yesterday and now struggling to move forward in a world without Jake is what really hurts the most. Moments gone and taken for granted like Jake kissing my sister on his way out the door, Jake patting the kids on their heads and telling them that he loves them and that he will see them later as he heads out the door for another shift.
Everyday small things that we all take for granted like Jake's tennis shoes that were left in the living room that morning that eventually would be moved. The smell of Jake lingering on his pillow that eventually faded and Jake's toothbrush that will no longer be used.
It's the unfinished promise of the future together:
Jake never getting to see his kids off on their first day of school.
Jake never getting to help his kids learn to ride a bike.
Jake never being able to teach his kids to drive.
Jake never being able to watch his kids grow up, fall in love, get married and move out and live lives of their own.
Jake's kids will never have their Daddy there in the stands to support them during baseball games.
Jake's kids will not have Daddy’s help on homework or school projects.
Jake's kids will not have Daddy’s reassuring grip on their shoulders as they learn to ride bikes without training wheels.
Jake's kids will never be able to share stories of bad days at school with their Daddy.
Jake's kids will never have their Daddy teach them to fish, go on a camping trip, play a game of catch or help them get passed hard parts in a video game.
Jake's kids will never feel the hug and safety of their father's arms ever again.
Jake's two children now must accept a life ahead without their Daddy. The shooter didn't just shoot a cop that day. He shot and killed a family.
Can you imagine having to explain to a 3 year old and a 4 year old, that a bad man has killed their Daddy and still try to somehow let them know they are safe and loved in a world where everything has shown them the opposite.
It's the memories and the promise of a future that should have been; That is what was stolen from Jake's family and community on this nightmare that started that morning in March 2018 and this nightmare will continue for the rest of our lives as we continue to mourn for the loss of Jake and everyday knowing that he should be here next to us sharing in these milestones with his wife and kids.
We may end a chapter of this story here today, but we will always remember Jake for who he was in life and in death, a giving person that not only gave his all during his short life but also gave life to others in his death with organ donation. That is the kind of guy Jake was and will be remembered by his actions.
Jake’s friends and family now have the monumental task to continue Jake’s legacy of service to others, we will try and step in and continue to keep Jake’s memory alive for his kids and remind them of who their Daddy was and continue to tell them stories of Jake as they grow older, and continue to let them know how much Jake had loved them. We will continue to let them know that their Daddy was and is still loved, and we will continue to remind them that even though Jake was a big guy, the only thing bigger than Jake was his heart and his capacity to love others.