Elkhart teen sentenced in felony murder case

A 17-year-old was sentenced to 45 years in prison for felony murder Thursday at circuit court.
Posted on Dec. 13, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — Jose Quiroz, a 17-year-old who was charged with murder while committing a felony, was sentenced Thursday at Elkhart County Circuit Court.

He was sentenced to 45 years in prison and 10 years on reporting probation.

Quiroz is one of four teenagers accused of entering a house on 1919 Frances Ave. Oct. 3, and attempting to commit burglary. A fifth person who entered the house, 21-year-old Danzele Johnson, was shot and killed by Rodney Scott, the owner of the residence.

During Quiroz’s sentencing hearing, judge Terry Shewmaker notified the court Quiroz had filed to withdraw his plea of guilty. Quiroz pleaded guilty Nov. 15 and agreed to a sentence of 55 years in prison, with 10 of those years suspended and on probation.

Quiroz’s attorney, Peter Todd, told the judge he talked with his client about the withdrawal and that there was no issue, but when asked, Quiroz said, “it’s still an issue.”

The judge explained that he had already accepted the guilty plea and Quiroz’s motion to file by himself while having an attorney was not acceptable, he denied Quiroz’s motion to withdraw and continued with the sentencing.

Chief Prosecuting Attorney Vicky Becker she didn’t believe Quiroz understands what it means to be safe in one’s home.

“I can understand why ... That comes with age, experience, working hard to achieve these things. There will come a day I hope that he will mature enough to understand what it means to deserve sanctity of a home.”

Scott was not present at the sentencing hearing, and had he told Becker he did not want to contact Quiroz through the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program. He also asked for no financial restitution to cover damages to his home from the break-in.

When the judge asked Quiroz if he had something to say to the court, Quiroz shook his head, staring ahead.

Two other teenagers involved in the case, Blake Layman, 16, and Levi Sparks, 17, appeared for court hearings today as well, but there were no further proceedings for them.


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