GOSHEN — When 18-year-old Darius Thomas accidentally shot himself in the foot, he also figuratively did, agreed his attorney and the deputy prosecutor. What they didn’t agree on was how much Thomas has learned from his time in jail after he was arrested for robbery.
Thomas, of 1824 College Manor Drive, Goshen, was sentenced Thursday at Elkhart County Circuit Court to 16 years in prison, with four years suspended and on probation. Thomas had agreed to a cap of 14 years in prison, but the sentence was enhanced by two years because of aggravators in his case.
Judge Terry Shewmaker noted Thomas had gone through 10 different programs in the juvenile justice system for four different cases. The severity of the crime he was being sentenced for was another reason the sentence was enhanced. Thomas and his co-defendent, Andres Torres, 17, both admitted that they robbed a person on May 20 using a sawed-off shotgun.
Five days later, Thomas accidently shot a round into his foot, drawing the attention of police.
Clifford Williams, Thomas’s attorney, said since Thomas was arrested in May, he has made much progress and matured. Williams added he has always counted on the support of his family. Thomas’s mother and his grandmother were present at the sentencing hearing.
But deputy prosecutor David Francisco said he didn’t see the change in Thomas’s behavior.
“This is someone who needs the court’s supervision over a lengthy period of time,” he said. “this is someone who needs to be removed from society for a lengthy period of time.”
Francisco had asked for an enhancement of four years to bring the sentence up to 18 years, but Shewmaker enhanced it by only two years.
Thomas asked for a second chance, to which the judge said this was his second chance.
“We’re going to try it again with probation,” Shewmaker said. Thomas’s records show he was dishonorably discharged from probation twice while in the juvenile justice system.
As he left the courtroom he yelled some obscenities.