December 23, 2013

Scoutmaster killer gets 45 years

Victim's family urges man to get help after murder in Bunker Hill.

By Carson Gerber
For the Pharos-Tribune

---- — PERU — The man who stabbed a 76-year-old Kokomo scoutmaster to death in 2011 in front of two young Scouts was sentenced Monday to 45 years in prison.

Shane Golitko killed Art Anderson as he led a hike along the Nickel Plate Trail in Bunker Hill. Anderson bled to death on the trail after Golitko stabbed him in the neck during a schizophrenic episode.

Golitko appeared in Miami County Circuit Court Monday wearing an orange prison jumpsuit. Behind him sat Anderson's family members.

Golitko said he had stopped taking his anti-psychotic medication before he attacked his mother inside her Bunker Hill residence on Aug. 21, 2011, and then ran onto the trail and stabbed Anderson.

Three psychiatrists diagnosed Golitko as a paranoid schizophrenic during pre-trial mental examinations, but two of those psychiatrists said he was aware and culpable for his actions.

In November, Golitko pled guilty, but mentally ill, to murder. In exchange, prosecutors dropped the remaining felony charges of battery resulting in serious bodily injury and battery by bodily waste.

During Monday’s hearing, family members urged Golitko to seek treatment for his schizophrenia, but said they didn’t forgive him for the murder.

“Shane, I can’t forgive you,” said Janice Levitan, Anderson’s daughter. “Forgiveness is not something granted unless there was a mistake. This was not a mistake. This was a choice you made, and you need to live with the consequences of your choice, just like I do.

“This doesn’t mean I hate you or want to see you harmed,” she continued. “I don’t seek vengeance. In fact, I feel sorry for you and your mother … But there’s nothing that can make this better. I and my children will suffer the rest of our lives. You will suffer as well. But our lives will go on, and I hope we can use them to make this world a better place.”

Besides serving as a Scoutmaster, Anderson volunteered teaching math classes for Indiana University Kokomo and helped with Kokomo High School’s robotics team. He also was a certified pilot and volunteered to fly patients and family members to out-of-state hospitals.

Anderson’s widow, Bette, told the court her husband was a remarkable man who helped many people.

Since the murder, she said, she has suffered from erratic sleep, stress-induced panic attacks and crying spells. She said she has also struggled financially since the incident.

“Art Anderson was my life partner, my husband, the father of my children and my friend,” Bette Anderson said. “Neither punishment nor forgiveness are for me to dole out. That’s up to the court and our creator. But I don’t want anyone else to ever go through what my family has gone through. I want to make sure you are separated from society as long as there’s any chance you could do what you did to all of us.”

She urged Golitko to seek help for his mental illness and make his life better while serving out his sentence.

“Your actions have hurt so many people,” Bette Anderson said. “Please do everything you can to turn your own life around. Art will never come back to life, but you have the chance to learn and change. Please don’t waste another life.”

Golitko declined to make a statement during the hearing. His mother, Valerie Henson, cried openly behind him.

Circuit Court Judge Timothy Spahr called the murder “tragic,” but said there were more mitigating factors in the case than aggravators.

Spahr noted Golitko had never been criminally charged before the murder, and has a history of mental illness that factored into the incident.

He also said the fact Golitko pleaded guilty showed he took responsibility for the murder and demonstrated thoughtfulness for the two young Scouts present when Anderson was stabbed, since they would have had to testify and relive the incident if the case had gone to trial.

“This is one of those unfortunate, tragic events that impacts so many lives,” Spahr said. “But by pleading guilty, those young Scouts are spared from going through the emotional ordeal of a trial and reliving the incident. That’s an important consideration.”

After his comments, Spahr handed out the maximum 45-year murder sentence, with 1,710 days suspended for the time Golitko spent in prison after his arrest.

Spahr also said he would direct the Indiana Department of Corrections to offer Golitko as much mental-health attention as possible, and encouraged him to seek help and continue taking his anti-psychotic medication.