Boy convicted in killing as an adult at age 12 gets juvenile hearing
Posted: 03/08/2013 at 4:00 pm
By: CHARLES WILSON
A Kosciusko County court sentenced Paul Henry Gingerich in 2010 to 25 years in prison, saying he and two other boys conspired to fatally shoot 49-year-old Phillip Danner in a plot to run away to Arizona.
In December, the Indiana Court of Appeals threw out Gingerichís guilty plea and sentence, saying a juvenile court judge rushed when he waived the case to adult court. The appellate court ordered a new hearing to determine if Gingerich should be retried in a juvenile court.
The Indiana attorney generalís office appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing Gingerich had signed a plea agreement and waived his right to appeal his conviction. On Thursday, the state Supreme Court upheld the appellate courtís decision.
Gingerichís attorney, Monica Foster, said Gingerich phoned her from prison Friday.
ďHeís a very, very quiet kid, but he was very happy,Ē she said.
Foster said the next step will be another waiver hearing in juvenile court to decide whether Gingerich should be retried as an adult.
ďTheyíll be looking at it as if he were a 12-year-old,Ē she said. But, she added, his behavior in prison would weigh in his favor.
While the state could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, Foster doubted the justices would take it up because it involved state law.
Indiana attorney generalís office spokesman Bryan Corbin said Gingerichís age at the time of the crime prompted a debate over juvenilesí rights, but it was important to remember victims also have rights.
Foster said in a previous court brief that Gingerichís guilty plea was invalid because the case never should have been heard in an adult court, that Gingerich hadnít understood the proceedings and that he had believed the judge was obligated to find him guilty.
Foster said in a brief that the lower court had not allowed Gingerichís attorneys sufficient time to prepare or conduct a proper investigation into his competency for an adult trial, and accepted a probation officerís erroneous testimony concerning the availability of facilities other than prisons for youths convicted of violent crimes.
Gingerich, who is now 15, was one of three juveniles charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the April 2010 shooting at Dannerís home near Lake Wawasee, about midway between Fort Wayne and South Bend. Police said Gingerich and a 15-year-old co-defendant shot and killed Danner and that another 12-year-old boy served as a lookout.
The 15-year-old pleaded guilty as an adult and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The other boy was sentenced to juvenile detention until age 18.