VALPARAISO — Locks and bars didn’t stop East Chicago Councilman Robert Battle’s inauguration.
The newly sworn-in Battle can retain his public title and annual salary of $42,356 a year despite being held in Porter County Jail on federal drug and homicide charges.
Michelle Fajman, Lake County elections director, said Friday she received a document stating Battle has been sworn into office for his new term as representative as East Chicago’s 3rd District.
She said she didn’t know the circumstances around Battle’s oath of office, but it was conducted by a notary public, who was identified by the Porter County clerk’s office as someone who was in the Porter County Jail.
Porter County Sheriff David Reynolds, who couldn’t be reached Friday for comment, said earlier Battle is in custody, and he would take no action to prevent the ceremony since he had no authority to do so.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Marshals Service, which has custody over Battle, said earlier there are no rules restricting Battle’s swearing-in.
Battle ran unopposed in the November election, receiving 308 votes.
State law requires elected officials to take the oath of office no later than 30 days after the beginning of their new term, which began Jan. 1 for Battle, or vacate the office.
He has been in federal detention since his arrest Nov. 17. He is pleading not guilty to a five-count indictment alleging he possessed cocaine and marijuana and killed a street gang member as part of a drug-dealing conspiracy.
Battle has said through his attorney that he shot Reimundo Camarillo Jr., 31, on Oct. 12 in self-defense. Authorities have said East Chicago’sShotSpotter technology recorded “methodical three shots” that Battle fired.
Battle is scheduled to stand trial the week of Aug. 8, 2016.
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