Daily Journal staff reports
The video of a shooting at a rural Johnson County home last week shows one man with a gun, before both men fire multiple rounds.
Now, after reviewing that video and other evidence, the prosecutor has determined that Dean Keller was acting in self defense when he fired at his neighbor, striking him four times in the chest, and will face no criminal charges.
On the evening of June 27, the video shows Keller and his wife Lisa working in the yard of their home east of Greenwood, when their neighbor, Jeffrey Weigle, pulls up to the fence on a riding lawnmower. Weigle adjusts the fence — an issue the two neighbors had been disputing for years — calls Lisa and Dean Keller derogatory names and gets back on the lawnmower and drives away.
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The video then shows Weigle reverse the lawnmower, with a gun in his hand.
Keller pulls out his gun and fires at Weigle, knocking him to the ground. Weigle fires back, as Keller leaves the area.
Both men fired multiple shots. Keller was not struck. Weigle remains in critical condition at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, a hospital spokesperson said Wednesday.
Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper ruled Keller’s actions were justifiable and determined that Keller will not face any criminal charges. He said he has not made a decision on what, if any, charges Weigle will face if he recovers.
State law says that a person is justified in using deadly force and does not have to retreat if the person believes that the force is necessary to prevent serious injury.
Given the aggression shown by Weigle, including the name calling, driving towards Keller on the riding mower and drawing and waving the gun, “it was reasonable for Keller to believe deadly force was necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to himself and/or his wife, who was standing nearby,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
Nancy Phillips, who owns the home where Weigle lives, said that Weigle used her gun, which he must have taken from her room without her permission, the prosecutor’s office report said.
Keller, 49, and Weigle, 59, have been feuding since at least 2009 over fences, animals and other issues between the two properties in the 1200 block of Campbell Road, according to reports from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.
Keller is fortunate that the prosecutor took the time to review the facts, instead of filing a charge based on the fact that a gun was fired and someone was seriously hurt, said Andy Baldwin, an attorney representing Dean Keller.
“We are fortunate to have prosecutors that respect the Second Amendment and also respect the very powerful self defense statutes,” he said.
The family has suffered from harassment and repeated altercations with Weigle for years, Baldwin said.