FORT WAYNE – A 40-year-old Iraqi war veteran pleaded guilty Tuesday in Allen Superior Court to voluntary manslaughter, admitting to beating his girlfriend to death last spring with a baseball bat.
Anthony Ochs was originally charged with aggravated battery and attempted murder after his arrest for clubbing his girlfriend, Susan Lombardi, 42, with a baseball bat. He called police about 3 a.m. April 13, saying he’d hit her in the head.
She was taken to a hospital with multiple facial fractures and traumatic brain injuries.
The charge was upgraded to murder a few days later after Lombardi’s family removed her from life support.
In August, Ochs’ attorney, Randy Fisher, told the court he intended to use the defense of mental disease or defect when Ochs stood trial. According to Fisher, Ochs was a three-tour veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom who suffered from blackouts and was under the care of the Veterans Affairs Department at the time of the attack on Lombardi.
Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull appointed a number of experts to evaluate Ochs, and the trial was set to begin this week. In a pretrial hearing, prosecutors said they intended to use information about previous episodes of violence between the couple.
According to court documents, Lombardi called police Jan. 7, saying Ochs was armed with a knife and threatening to kill her.
Then, about six weeks before her death, Ochs apologized to Lombardi’s dad for having shoved her to the ground.
In exchange for his guilty plea, Ochs will be sentenced to 50 years in prison next month.
The more serious charge of murder will be dismissed, according to court documents.