Witness: DeLaney's Bizarre Behavior Tipped Off Trouble

Couple Called 911 After Unsettling Encounter With DeLaney

As State Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis, recovers from injuries suffered in a beating Saturday in Carmel, speculation runs rampant about what was the motive for the attack.

DeLaney suffered broken bones in his face, three broken ribs, a punctured lung and needed several staples in his head after the attack, which happened just off Catherine Drive.

John Palmer and his wife, Cathy, happened to be driving by the area when they saw a Chrysler PT Cruiser parked under some trees in a secluded area out of sight of any homes.

By coincidence, they happened to know the man in the driver's seat -- DeLaney -- because Cathy had worked with him at a downtown Indianapolis law firm. Another man was in the passenger seat, Palmer said.

"He (the other man) had a big, red wig on," Palmer said, adding that DeLaney opened the door and casually talked to them. "(We) basically just exchanged pleasantries. He asked Cathy if she was still working for Barnes (law firm) because Mr. DeLaney had retired a long time ago."

Palmer said an oddity about the conversation and DeLaney's actions prompted concern.

"We noticed while he was talking to us, he kept flipping us off," Palmer said. "His hand would be down low, and then he'd wink," Palmer said. "We thought, 'Wow, that's out of character,' because he's a nice, nice gentleman."

The Palmers drove away and called 911. Soon after, police said they found Augustus Mendenhall, 38, lying on top of DeLaney and beating him. Mendenhall is an attorney, having passed the Indiana bar last year.

Family members said Mendenhall tried to shoot DeLaney first, but the gun jammed. Police are still trying to determine exactly what led to the beating, 6News' Tanya Spencer reported.

Augustus Mendenhall

Speculation has centered around an old court case from 1983 that involved Mendenhall's father, Burke Mendenhall, who owned a building in the 4200 block of West 38th Street in which he intended to set up an adult bookstore.

According to court records, the Marion County prosecutor at the time, Stephen Goldsmith, directed the Indianapolis Police Department to "lock, seal and secure" the bookstore on Mendenhall's property.

There was a long, drawn out court battle that lasted six years. DeLaney's wife was deputy prosecutor at the time.

"It just seems really strange that (someone) would do that after all these years," Palmer said.

DeLaney called the Palmers from his hospital bed Saturday night to thank them for calling police.

"He was doing well. They're going to have to do some surgeries on him, and it will be a while, but he's going to be OK," Palmer said.

Mendenhall was charged with several felonies, including attempted murder. He was being held without bond in the Hamilton County Jail Sunday.

6News attempted to arrange an interview with Mendenhall, but he replied "not right now." He is scheduled for an initial court appearance Monday.

DeLaney represents the 86th District, which includes portions of Hamilton and Marion counties.