A Fort Wayne man was sentenced today to 26 years behind bars for breaking into a house, stabbing two people and and starting a fire that injured three police officers, one of them critically, more than a year ago.
Justin D. Pease, 33, pleaded guilty but mentally ill last month to two counts of felony battery, three counts of felony arson and two counts of misdemeanor resisting law enforcement.
Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull sentenced Pease to 48 years, with 26 years to be served behind bars and the remaining 22 years suspended. She also recommended he receive psychiatric treatment.
Pease broke into his ex-girlfriend's home in the 2200 block of St. Marys Avenue April 2, 2016, stabbing her and one other person before barricading himself in a bedroom and cutting himself in the throat. He claimed he had a hostage.
When police arrived and were negotiating with Pease, he set the room on fire.
Rescue workers outside the home radioed Fort Wayne police Officers Boyce Ballinger, Daniel Simpson and Joshua Franciscy, telling them about smoke and flames coming from the home. That's when Ballinger kicked in the door. There was no hostage inside, only Pease, who struggled with the officers. Pease was safely taken from the home.
The two people who were stabbed survived.
Simpson and Franciscy were treated for smoke inhalation, but Ballinger suffered serious injuries. He was put into a medically induced coma for a few days to recover.
Several weeks later, Ballinger attended an awards ceremony where the police department honored him and the two other officers for their roles in Pease's arrest.
For more on this story, read Saturday's print edition of The Journal Gazette or return to www.journalgazette.net after 1 a.m. Saturday.