WARSAW, Ind. (WANE) - A 12-year-old Kosciusko County boy has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the killing of the stepfather of one of his friends.
Today a judge sentenced Paul Gingerich to 30 years with the last five to be served on probation.
Back on April 20th of last year, Colt Lundy and Gingerich shot Phillip Danner, 49, in his home in Cromwell. Danner was shot four times and died in the home. Danner is Lundy's stepfather.
During the setencing hearing Tuesday Gingerich said, "I'm sorry for what happened to Mr. Danner. I'm sorry for what the family had to go through. I did wrong and I'm ready to [take responsibility] for my actions."
It was also recommended that Gingerich take part in the Youth Incarcerated as an Adult program at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. That is the same place Lundy currently is, according to Gingerich's attorney William Cohen.
Gingerich will also get credit for at least 250 days he's already been in jail. Cohen argued Gingerich should get credit for 258 days, saying Gingerich was detained in Illinois on April 21. Prosecutor Steven Hearn said Gingerich was detained, but wasn't technically arrested until April 29.
In September of 2010, a Kosciusko Circuit Court judge accepted Colt Lundy's plea deal and sentenced him to 30 years with the last five years of the sentence suspended. Lundy will serve that time on probation. The judge added that he's recommending to the Indiana Department of Corrections that Lundy be in the youth offender program in the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility until age 18. Lundy will also get credit for the 152 days he's already been in the Kosciusko County Jail.
Lundy pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in exchange for dropping the murder and aiding in murder charges.
New Details from Court:
Judge Rex Reed started the sentencing hearing Tuesday by saying he's reviewed letters from both sides, arguing for the approprite sentence for Paul Henry Gingerich, 12.
In November, Gingerich pleaded guilty to conspiracy to committ murder in exchange for dropping a murder and aiding in murder charge.
In court, Gingerich's father, Paul Gingerich, asked Judge Reed to give his son the minimum sentence. He had requested to give his statement to the judge in person in court rathar than write a letter as others did.
Paul Gingerich Sr. said he is grieving for the Danner family and for his son, whom with he can't rough-house or play ball any more. He asked for Judge Reed to consider his son's age.
"I know what he did ws wrong, but he should be punished as a child. Children follow. They do what they're told. They do not have the moral compass we do," he said in court.
He also cited religion as the center of a moral compass. Several religions, he said, recognize children are different from adults.
"We as adult must make decisions based on morals, not the law. The law of the land changes, not God's law," he said.
Gingerich's attorneys also argued that the boy should be sentenced to the minimum 20 years and that the sentence be carried out in a juvenile facility.
Fred Franco Jr., one of Gingerich's attorneys, said that while the court may have judged his client as an adult, he's still a boy. Gingerich, he said, had never been in trouble before.
"No one knows why he did what he did. Even Paul Henry can't tell you. Why he listened to Colt Lundy no one knows," Franco said.
Franco shed light on new statments Lundy had given to prosecutors after he had been sentenced. In those statements, Franco said Lundy said he had to kill his stepfather because he wanted his divorced parents to get back together again. That wouldn't be possible if Danner was involved. Franco added that Lundy said he had run away from home several times and Danner always brought him back. Lundy said in his statement that he didn't want Danner to bring him back again, Franco said in court.
"Paul didn't know Mr. Danner. This plan was initiated and carried forth by Colt," Franco said.
Franco argued that Gingerich and two other 12-year-old boys were bullied to be involved.
"The boys were afraid of Colt. Colt used to shoot the boys with BB guns," he said in court.
One 12-year-old boy was just a witness but didn't run away with the other three. The other 12-year-old stood watch outside the house and left with Lundy and Gingerich. He stayed in the juvenile system and has already finished serving six months in a juvenile facility.
Gingerich's parents had recently divorced and Franco said Gingerich also wanted to run away.
"All he wanted to do was run away. He made the biggest mistake of his life and he'll pay for it," Franco said.
Gingerich's other attorney, William Cohen, also argued that Lundy is more to blame than Gingerich.
"It was Colt's idea. Colt got the guns. Colt fired first. It was Colt's shot that killed Phillip Danner," Cohen said. "[Paul Gingerich] is a good boy at heart. This young man would not have formulated a plan to kill someone."
Cohen's arguments, however, focused on asking Judge Reed to
recommend Gingerich be placed in a juvenile facility.
"I bet he's the youngest person in Indiana to go to an adult prison. It will be another tragedy to send a 12-year-old boy to adult prison where his safety would be in question," Cohen said. "He would come out so much worse than if he were to go to a juvenile facility."
A psychologist, Dr. Stephen Ross, did an evaluation on Gingerich. Cohen said those results found that Gingerich was a "normal young boy, not a sociopath."
Kosciusko County Prosecutor Steven Hearn said while he wasn't going to respond to every argument the defense made, it didn't mean he agrees with them.
"Nobody remembers when we fist learn you don't take someone's property or hurt them," Hearn said. "Those are core moral values. Paul Henry didn't come from a deprived family. They had core values and I can't believe he didn't know core values and didn't know them at a young age."
He went on to say that there was no real justice or punishment to be had in this case. Justice, he said, is a moral right.
"There is no right in this case. There is nothing anyone can do to correct the wrong to Phillip Dnner," Hearn said.
Punishment, he said, is to correct someone's behavior.
"I don't think this will happen again, so we can't do that either. Whatever sentence the court renders, it's not our place to be happy or unhappy about it. We trust in the State of Indiana," Hearn said.
Details of the Crime:
Police said Danner was shot multiple times: once in the eye, once in the wrist and twice in the chest. Police testimony said Lundy, Paul Gingerich, 12, and another 12-year-old had planned for weeks to kill Danner and go to Arizona to sell T-shirts to "drug people."
Lundy and Gingerich each fired two shots at Danner. Kosciusko County Detective Jonathan Tyler has testified Lundy talked about his plan to kill Danner with several boys on a playground in their neighborhood on April 20. Lundy then went back to his home and got Danner's revolver and semi-automatic handgun.
After Lundy gave a signal, Gingerich, and another 12-year-old boy came into the Lundy house. Tyler said Gingerich went into the home through Lundy's bedroom window and Lundy gave Gingerich the handgun. Tyler continued saying Lundy and Gingerich then went into the living room and sat on the couch and a chair waiting for Danner to come to the doorway between the kitchen and living room. When Danner did, Tyler said both boys fired two shots.
After they fired the guns, Tyler said Lundy and Gingerich went to the front door where the other boy was outside to show him what had happened. Lundy then packed clothes, food, ammunition and fire arms and later that night the three boys left in Danner's car to go to Arizona.
The police investigation stated that there is no evidence of abuse between Danner and Lundy.
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