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City councilman accused of murder sworn into office in jail

The low bar for politicians was lowered again recently, this time in East Chicago where a city councilman jailed on drug and murder charges was sworn into office while behind bars.

East Chicago City Councilman Robert Battle was first elected in 2011.

East Chicago City Councilman Robert Battle was sworn into office Friday.

He is accused in the Oct. 12 shooting death of ex-convict Reimundo Camarillo Jr. An indictment says Battle killed Camarillo while engaged in a conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.

Battle also faces a federal drug charge stemming from a traffic stop where police found 73 grams of marijuana and $100,000 in cash.

Battle didn't vote for himself from jail, but since he ran unopposed he didn't really have to. He won re-election by getting only 308 votes. He won an earlier primary by 52 votes.

He will continue to collect a $42,365 salary until he resigns, admits guilt or is found guilty.

Democratic party leaders said the situation is "strange," and hope Battle quits.

"I would hope that the right thing is done so that the citizens of East Chicago and especially his district can be properly represented," said Sheriff John Buncich, who is also the county's Democratic Party leader.

Battle’s attorney, John Cantrell, said his client will keep up with city business from behind bars.

“He is presumed innocent until he is proven guilty,” Cantrell told the Washington Times . “If he is acquitted, he’ll keep his job.”

Considering how long it takes federal cases to go to court, Battle stands a shot at getting re-elected in 2019.

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