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January 4, 2011

Adult prison sentence of 25 years for 12-year old killer in Indiana


As detailed in this lengthy local article from Indiana, which is headlined "Gingerich sentenced to 25 years in prison," today a very young killer in Indiana got a very adult sentence for his crime. Here are the specifics:

A 12-year-old Kosciusko County boy has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the killing of the stepfather of one of his friends. Today a judge sentenced Paul Gingerich to 30 years with the last five to be served on probation.

Back on April 20th of last year, Colt Lundy and Gingerich shot Phillip Danner, 49, in his home in Cromwell.  Danner was shot four times and died in the home.  Danner is Lundy's stepfather.

During the setencing hearing Tuesday Gingerich said, "I'm sorry for what happened to Mr. Danner.  I'm sorry for what the family had to go through. I did wrong and I'm ready to [take responsibility] for my actions."...  In November, Gingerich pleaded guilty to conspiracy to committ murder in exchange for dropping a murder and aiding in murder charge.

In court, Gingerich's father, Paul Gingerich, asked Judge Reed to give his son the minimum sentence. He had requested to give his statement to the judge in person in court rathar than write a letter as others did.... "I know what he did ws wrong, but he should be punished as a child. Children follow. They do what they're told. They do not have the moral compass we do," he said in court....

Gingerich's attorneys also argued that the boy should be sentenced to the minimum 20 years and that the sentence be carried out in a juvenile facility.  Fred Franco Jr., one of Gingerich's attorneys, said that while the court may have judged his client as an adult, he's still a boy. Gingerich, he said, had never been in trouble before.

"No one knows why he did what he did.  Even Paul Henry can't tell you.  Why he listened to Colt Lundy no one knows," Franco said....  "Paul didn't know Mr. Danner.  This plan was initiated and carried forth by Colt," Franco said.

Franco argued that Gingerich and two other 12-year-old boys were bullied to be involved. "The boys were afraid of Colt. Colt used to shoot the boys with BB guns," he said in court. One 12-year-old boy was just a witness but didn't run away with the other three.  The other 12-year-old stood watch outside the house and left with Lundy and Gingerich.  He stayed in the juvenile system and has already finished serving six months in a juvenile facility....

A psychologist, Dr. Stephen Ross, did an evaluation on Gingerich. Cohen said those results found that Gingerich was a "normal young boy, not a sociopath."

Kosciusko County Prosecutor Steven Hearn said while he wasn't going to respond to every argument the defense made, it didn't mean he agrees with them.

January 4, 2011 at 08:00 PM | Permalink


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It's true that when you're 12, you're a boy not an adult. It's also true that you full well know at that age that it's both wrong and criminal to plan to shoot a person to death and then bring it off, pulling the trigger four times to make sure.

Lacking from the story is any allegation of abuse by the deceased (not that that would justify murder in any event). Also lacking is any claim that the defendant did not know what he was doing. But present is the note that others of the same age got the hell out of there rather than go through with it.

The story is telling in one way, however. It's not just that the Left wants to do away with LWOP for underage killers by extending Graham. It wants to do away with ANY substantial term of imprisonment. After that, it will want to do away with imprisonment at all.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 4, 2011 8:28:39 PM

Bill, sometimes I think you're a caricature created by a college kid to spoof conservative thought. Other times, I'm certain of it. This is one of those times.

Posted by: baffled | Jan 4, 2011 10:20:07 PM

The 12 year old murderer without prior behavior problems is a serious challenge to the proponents of all the goals of the criminal law save utilitarian advocates of incapacitation.

Should he hang, as the retributionists would have it?

Will his sentence deter him? He already regrets what he did. Will it deter other kids? They do not read the paper.

Does he need rehabilitation? He is already functioning normally.

Should he pay restitution? He should be sued in civil court and have part of all future wages garnished. If in prison, those would amount to 7 cents an hour.

Should the taxpayer pay for his incapacitation when he is normal and could go to school, eventually to become a taxpayer rather than a tax consumer? No. He should be released, with this episode counting as 1 in 123D.

This is the correct, effective answer, according to the utiliarian incapacitation advocate. In a way, status crime returns, that of having a criminal personality.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 5, 2011 4:26:17 AM

Imagine the monster he'll be when he gets out after 25 years in the state's crime academy.

And of course he'll be virtually unemployable as a far less sympathetic looking 37-year-old ex-con...thoroughly institutionalized before he was old enough to develop a work ethic.

Instead of looking for ways to redeem this 12-year-old boy, Indiana made all but certain he'll never have a plausible shot at living a productive life. But at least no one will be accusing the authorities of Indiana of being soft on crime...which of course is all that really matters.

Posted by: John K | Jan 5, 2011 7:42:23 AM

baffled --

If you have an argument to make, feel free.

P.S. Indulging murder, as John K does, is not an argument. It's indulgence.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 5, 2011 8:21:26 AM

John K --

"Imagine the monster he'll be when he gets out after 25 years in the state's crime academy."

I have no idea what he'll be like in the future and neither do you.

"And of course he'll be virtually unemployable as a far less sympathetic looking 37-year-old ex-con..."

It is true that employers have been known to have reservations about hiring those who kill.

"...thoroughly institutionalized before he was old enough to develop a work ethic."

How do you he would develop a work ethic in any event? A huge number of people never do. But for however that may be, many people develop a work ethic in prison, as their lawyers will earnestly tell you at their parole hearings.

"Instead of looking for ways to redeem this 12-year-old boy, Indiana made all but certain he'll never have a plausible shot at living a productive life."

Your idea that government can be in the redemption business is quaint. The nourishing of a person's soul is outside the government's competence.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 5, 2011 8:31:27 AM

SC --

"Should he hang, as the retributionists would have it?"

I haven't heard of a single person, retributionist or otherwise, who has said he should hang. Where are you getting that?

He should be punished, you bet. He murdered someone knowing full well what he was doing and intending to do it.

"Does he need rehabilitation? He is already functioning normally."

Intentionally shooting someone to death is not "functioning normally." Indeed it's about a zillion standard deviations away from functioning normally, for a 12 year-old or anyone else.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 5, 2011 8:48:41 AM

John, aren't you assuming that he is redeemable? I, like most people, certainly want him to be. But while neuroscience might suggest that his brain is not like an adult's, psychological science might well suggest that he's a fledgling psychopath who is incapable change. If that's the case, what's proper sentence for this young man?

Posted by: Steve | Jan 5, 2011 8:57:23 AM

The traditional retributionist view is from Iraq tribal culture, via the Bible, with its symmetry of suffering, an eye for an eye and just deserts.

They would have no difficulty killing kids for their purposes. Indeed, the execution of one 10 year old after his committing a murder would have saved a million lives and a $trillion, that being the execution of Saddam Hussein at age 10. He killed a farmer, a warm pistol was under his pillow. His abusive, alcoholic step father persuaded or paid the police to leave young Saddam to him. But Saddam was a career criminal by age 10, and his execution would have served the aims of an utilitarian incapacitation advocate.

To the degree that a retributionist violates strict symmetry, and just deserts, he is a rehabilitationist.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 5, 2011 2:56:11 PM

Gingerich is 12 and has no priors. The young acquaintance who almost certainly bullied him into participating in the killing reportedly used to shoot him with a BB-gun to underscore his authority and influence. Consider, too, that the shrink says Gingerich is normal and, yes, Steve, I believe Gingerich is capable of being redeemed.

Bill, suggesting there might be suitable alternatives to throwing the book at this particular adolescent isn't tantamount to indulging murder...not in the world I live in, anyway.

Posted by: John K | Jan 5, 2011 8:19:25 PM

Bill: Legal language aside, just as self-honest human beings, can you personally think of any circumstances outside of self defense or defense of others where you could shoot someone? It may be the easiest thing in the world to do without being a moral monster. I probably would advocate that you go home, under 123D if your history turned up no criminality. Once the future victim, who pays for government protection, becomes the focus of the decision, and not the lawyer client, the criminal's interest, utility can result in what you may find very strange outcomes. Yet, they are the most advantageous to the public interest.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 5, 2011 9:31:55 PM

I have represented 2 people who were sent to death row when they were 16 years old. A generation ago their sentences were commuted to life. They grew to to being taken adavantage of by the adult prisoners. They had to f*ck or fight. They learned fight and became predators like their tormenters. The same thing is going happen to this 12 year old. The judge is giving up on this kid. Why can't he send him to juvy and see if he matures into a responsible citizen.

Posted by: k | Jan 5, 2011 9:38:25 PM

K: A bit off topic, perhaps. Because prison authorities have control of the bodies of both the rape predators and of the rape victims, and the high frequency of rape makes it foreseeable, I would like to see an aggregate Section 1983 claim on behalf of all rape victim of a prison system. I would also like to see an attempt to pierce the unlawful, religiously based, unconstitutional, and poor policy basis sovereign immunity of these state entities. Then a straight forward tort premises security liability claim may be filed. I have no standing, and the funding of such a claim would represent champerty and maintenance. Is there a prisoner association out there that would be interested? If there is, I can go into greater depth with the legal justifications for such a claim.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 6, 2011 12:20:31 AM

Hello, I am Brian, Paralegal student. I am quite shocked to know it. The verdict which was empowered by the court was definitely for the sake of the society. And I think this decision would be strong enough for the minors and of course for the criminals to commit such offensive crime. But this is an ultimate decision, people should be acquainted with the basic knowledge of law and its procedure.

Posted by: George Allen | Jan 6, 2011 4:47:49 AM

"Why can't he send him to juvy and see if he matures into a responsible citizen."

And what if he doesn't? What recourse then?

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