WARSAW, Ind. (WANE) - A 12-year-old boy will spend six years in a juvenile detentioncenter for his role in a Kosciusko County murder.
The boy was charged with Assisting a Criminal involved in amurder, a Class C Felony. Police say he knew Colt Lundy, 15, andPaul Gingerich, 12, were planning to kill Phillip Danner, 49. OnApril 20, 2010, they said the 12-year-old stood outside Danner'shouse while Lundy and Gingerich shot and killed Danner. Later thatnight the boys snuck out of their homes and started driving toArizona. Police stopped them in Illinois.
New information in court Wednesday said the boy did help planthe trip to Arizona, but he didn't know about the plan to killDanner until that day.
"Even though the plan [to go to Arizona or California] was inthe works for a while, he had no discussion of the murder planuntil the day of," the boy's attorney, Chris Kehler said in court."He was requested to participate and he said no. He had beenwarned, 'You better not back out or you're going to get it.' Whenhe first heard of the shooting the day of, his thought was, 'I hopethey're bluffing.' When he heard shots he thought, 'I hope they'reblanks.' His role is post shooting."
Kehler added the boy's a follower, not a leader. The attorneyalso shed some light on the boy's childhood, saying he neededdirection. The boy lived with his grandmother after his parents'divorce and by the sixth grade had been in six differentschools.
Judge Duane Huffer then pointed out that the boy has beenexpelled from school before, saying, "You say he's not a leader? Heseems to be doing this on his own." Kehler didn't say when or whythe boy was expelled.
Kehler added that while the boy has smoked cigarettes before, henow says he doesn't want to because he knows he can do morephysically if he doesn't smoke. Since being in the juvenilefacility in Pierceton, Kehler said the boy's been on good behaviorand followed orders. He's also been showing remorse.
"He told me that he had been praying and he thought it was oddto feel sorry for and cry about a family he didn't know. That's the12-year-old version of being very remorseful," Kehler said.
Kehler asked the judge to allow the sixth grader to go home withstrict rules and mandatory counseling. If not that, he asked tocontinue the hearing to look into a private facility.
"It was my hope he'd have less involvement with other people whohave committed delinquent acts that, if an adult, would be acrime," Kehler said.
While Judge Huffer did acknowledge boy's good behavior duringhis incarceration, he added that the seriousness of the crime heparticipated in shows that he is beyond the control of hisparents.
"He doesn't know s**t. He doesn't live with me," the boy'sfather, Michael Walley, said when news crews asked what he thoughtabout the judge questioning this son's home life.
Huffer continued saying the boy had several opportunities tochange the outcome of Danner's death. He could have run home forhelp or had his grandmother call the police, Huffer said. Hufferended the hearing by saying, "Frankly, I think you are a very luckyyoung boy."
"As compared to being tried as an adult, he is lucky," Kehlersaid.
The 12-year-old is to remain detained until he is 18-years-old,but he could be released early.
"That's what I presume will happen. That's what I hope willhappen," Kehler said. "He'll have to follow the rules and they haveprograms. If he participates in the programs and does well, he'llhave the opportunity to be released prior to age 18."
Judge Huffer also ordered the boy's mother and father to havecounseling with the boy while he's in the facility. He recommendthe South Bend facility, but a diagnostic center in Logansport willultimately decide where the boy will go. Huffer said when he'sreleased, he will be taken to his mother's house in Pierceton.
"I think that presumes he'll be younger than 18 when he'sreleased," Huffer said.
Lundy and Gingerich are charged with Murder in adult court.Their next hearing is Thursday morning. NewsChannel 15 will havecomplete coverage of what happens in the hearing on wane.com andNewsChannel 15 at Noon.
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