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Teens found guilty of felony murder

The jury gave a verdict on the forth day of trail for three teens facing felony murder charges.
Posted on Aug. 22, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Aug. 23, 2013 at 12:31 a.m.

GOSHEN — Three teens were found guilty of felony murder just minutes before midnight Thursday, Aug. 22. They were found guilty after the homeowner of a house they broke into shot and killed one of their group on Oct. 3, 2012

Blake Layman, 17; Levi Sparks, 18; and Anthony Sharp, 19, face up to 65 years in prison. Their sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 12.

The jury handed its verdict to the judge at about 11:50 p.m.

Before the jury was brought into the court, Judge Terry Shewmaker asked the people in the court to restrain themselves from any emotional outbursts.

When the verdict was read, many in the packed courtroom began sobbing.

“They’re just kids,” kept saying a member of the audience, shaking her head.

The joint trial for the three teens charged with felony murder lasted four days.

Earlier Thursday, the jury heard from Rodney Scott, the homeowner who shot and killed Danzele Johnson, 21.

Closing arguments from prosecuting and defense attorneys lasted about four hours. The case went to the jury at about 6:15 p.m.

BACKGROUND

Blake Layman, 17; Levi Sparks, 18; and Anthony Sharp, 19, are charged with felony murder and face a sentence of up to 65 years in prison if convicted.

On Oct. 3, 2012, a group of five people attempted to burglarize a residence at 1919 Frances Ave. The homeowner shot and killed 21-year-old Danzele Johnson, one of the members of the group.

The fifth person of the group, Jose Quiroz, pleaded guilty to felony murder and was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

Layman is represented by Mark Doty, private counsel, of Elkhart; Sparks, by Vincent Campiti, private counsel, of South Bend; and Sharp, by Jeff Majerek, of the public defender’s office of Elkhart County.


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