Man blames shooting on possession by an evil higher power, gets 160 years behind bars

By: NewsCenter 16 Staff Email
By: NewsCenter 16 Staff Email

The St. Joseph County Superior Court dealt a 160 year sentence to a man convicted of shooting and killing two people in the summer of 2012.

At a bench trial held in March, Brandon Biffle, 29, was found guilty of fatally shooting Johnnie Avance, 53, and Donald Wayne Paris, 55, in the 1600 block of North Olive St. in South Bend on August 15, 2012.

Following the March court appearance, Biffle was convicted of attempted murder and criminal recklessness for shooting at police and passing motorists as they attempted to respond to the scene. During that exchange of gunfire Biffle himself was wounded.

His sentencing was delayed until May 3 because Biffle refused to speak to a probation officer for a pre-sentencing interview. He said he would not talk to the officer because he was kept in a padded cell and placed on suicide watch.

Despite Biffle's attorney’s initial claims that he was mentally ill and therefore could not be held responsible for his crimes, the judge ultimately ruled that he was in fact responsible.

In court on Friday, Biffle blamed the shootings on an evil high power that possessed him. A judge then sentenced him to serve a total of 160 years in the Dept. of Corrections for nine counts including two counts of murder, six counts of attempted murder and one count of criminal recklessness.

Superior Court Judge Jane Woodward-Miller ordered the two counts of murder, each carrying a 60 year sentence, to run consecutively for 120 years. The remaining seven counts were ordered to run concurrently to each other, tacking on an additional 40 year sentence to run consecutively to the 120 years.

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