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Teens to appear in court for trial status conference

Three teenagers charged with felony murder will appear in court for their status conference Thursday.
Posted on April 11, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — The trials scheduled for April 22 for three teenagers charged with felony murder may need to be rescheduled because another trial is happening that day.

Blake Layman, 16, Levi Sparks, 18 and Anthony Sharp, 18, will appear in the jail courthouse Thursday morning, April 11, for a status conference.

The trial date for all three teenagers was rescheduled to April 22 in January after attorneys said they were still going through discovery in the cases.

The teenagers each face a charge of felony murder after an attempted burglary at 1919 Frances Ave., Elkhart, on Oct. 3. According to court documents, Layman, Sparks and Sharp, along with Jose Quiroz, 17, and Danzele Johnson, 21, entered the residence. The owner of the house was on the second floor, when he heard noise on the first floor. He approached the lower level and shot toward the intruders, killing Johnson.

Under Indiana law, if someone dies during the commission of a felony, everyone committing the felony can be charged with murder, even if it’s a conspirator who dies.

Quiroz pleaded guilty on Nov. 15, agreeing to a sentence of 45 years in prison and 10 years on probation. He was sentenced in December. During his plea hearing, Quiroz testified, saying Layman, Sparks and himself identified and targeted some homes to burglarize. Quiroz told the court that Sparks knocked on a few doors along Frances Avenue before deciding to break into 1919 Frances Ave.

Family and friends of the teenagers who remain at the jail held a rally April 3 at the Elkhart Civic Plaza to show their support and to ask the Elkhart County prosecutor to charge the teens for a lesser crime.

The trial date for the teens may need to be rescheduled again because of another trial scheduled for the same day. The trial is for Jose Alejandro, 21, who is charged with attempted murder and has a criminal gang enhancement. Alejandro was arrested July 4, 2012, in connection to the shooting of a 19-year-old man in May of that year.

Both Alejandro’s attorney and the prosecuting attorney in the case said their intentions were to go to trial.


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