Monday, February 8, 2016

Man to appear for post-conviction relief hearing
Posted on July 10, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on July 10, 2013 at 7:44 p.m.

GOSHEN — A man who was convicted of murder in 2007 will appear in court for a post-conviction relief hearing Thursday, July 11, when a subsequent filing for an extension in his case will be considered.

Robert Shorter, 27, of Elkhart, filed a petition for post-conviction relief in November 2012, according to court files. He argued he had “ineffective assistance of trial counsel, ineffective assistance at appeal counsel and ineffective assistance prior to trial.” He later filed a motion to withdraw.

But the court noted this was the second time Shorter filed a petition, so Shorter asked for an attorney.

In early May, Shorter’s attorney filed a motion to withdraw appearance, with Shorter agreeing to represent himself. Shorter then filed the motion for an extension in late May, but the request came too late to change Thursday’s hearing.

Shorter was charged in 2006 with murder and felony murder for the death of Franklin Stotts Jr. on April 20, 2005.

According to court files, Stotts sold marijuana and cocaine, and he showed Shorter $10,000 in cash that he had in his apartment a week before the assault.

At about 9 p.m. April 20, Stotts was watching TV while his 2-year-old daughter slept on the couch when two men entered. Michelle Gates, Stotts’s girlfriend, was in a back room getting their two other children ready for bed.

Gates’s parents, Diana and Mangle Causey, lived in the apartment below and went upstairs when they heard a disturbance. They were met by two men with their faces covered and holding guns.

They ordered the Causeys to lie down, and Stotts was heard saying, “Not in front of my kids. My kids are here.” The 2-year-old who had been sleeping in the bedroom ran into a back room of the apartment.

Stotts ran out the apartment and one of the suspects chased him while the other stayed in the living room. After taking the children to her parents’ apartment, Gates ran outside and found Stotts lying on the ground bleeding with gunshot wounds. Stotts was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The other man in the assault was identified as Jamar Lewis, who was convicted of murder.

Lewis filed a petition for post-conviction relief in 2012 but withdrew the petition in February.