YOUNG MURDERER: Teenager killed friend's stepfather at age 12
Now 15, boy won't be able to get out of prison until he turns 37
The crime was shocking in its callousness and brutality - and yet many people feel the defendant in the case got a raw deal. Planning to run away with friends, Paul Henry Gingerich casually shot his friend's stepfather to death, at the age of 12. Now 15 years old, Gingerich won't see the outside of a jail cell until he's 37 years old. Many believe that's far too harsh a sentence.
The subject of a new TV documentary in the United Kingdom, 15-year-old Paul Gingerich has been a model prisoner. He attends school inside the juvenile prison five days a week.
In Indiana, under extreme circumstances, children as young as 10 can be tried and sentenced in adult courts. Gingerich remains one of the youngest ever to be tried in this fashion.
That one fateful day in April, 2010, changed everything. Gingerich, an older boy called Colt Lundy and another 12-year-old called Chase Williams planned to run away together. But the then 15-year-old Lundy said his stepfather Phil Danner, wouldn't hear of it -- so they would have to kill him first.
Lundy handed Gingerich a loaded gun and crept into Danner's house where they sat in armchairs waiting for him to walk into the room. Chase Williams refused to go in and had remained outside the house.
"Phil turned the corner and then he (Colt) shot him. I freaked out and closed my eyes and turned around and shot," Gingerich told police. Paul also told police he simply went along with his older friend and didn't believe his friend was serious about killing his stepfather.
Gingerich was sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiring to fatally shoot 49-year-old Danner. The Indiana Court of Appeals in December of last year threw out Paul's guilty plea and sentence, saying a juvenile court judge rushed when he waived the case to adult court.
The appellate court ordered a new hearing to determine if Paul should be retried in a juvenile court.
There's a catch. If the court decides that Paul should be retried as an adult, for the more serious crime of murder, he could be sentenced to 65 years and remains incarcerated until the age of 77.
Either way, he's due to spend the next three years in a juvenile facility before being transferred to Indiana's notoriously tough Adult prison system.
His attorney, Monica Foster, said: "You really can't appreciate just how horrific the adult prison system is unless you've been there. For the last 30 years I've been in and out of the adult prison system in the State of Indiana and I wouldn't let my dog go there for a week, much less a 12-year-old kid."
The subject of a new TV documentary in the United Kingdom, Gingerich has been a model prisoner. He attends school inside the juvenile prison five days a week.
His father Paul Senior, said: 'I never wanted him to get off scot free. He did commit a crime and I don't want people to see him as a victim because Phil Danner was the victim in this case. Now sporting a crew cut, he says that "I believe I have matured faster than other kids my age. I'm starting to think before I act more and not be so impulsive. Now I'm more grateful for what I have."
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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