Wednesday, February 29, 2012

12-year-old Indiana boy's adult sentence to be reviewed

The Indiana Court of Appeals will review 25 year sentence

Paul Henry Gingerich  was 12 years and 2 months old when he and a 15 year-old friend shot and killled the friend's step-father. He was a sixth-grader at an Indiana Middle School. Paul had no prior criminal record. A psychologist who evaluated Paul said the he lacked a basic understanding of the court proceedings and wasn't competent to stand trial as an adult, reported the Indianapolis Star.

Nonetheless, Kosciusko Circuit Judge Rex Reed did not buy the defense's theory that Paul had been bullied into the crime by his older accomplice. He declared them both fit to stand trial as adults and found them equally culpable. Each was sentence to 25 years in prison.

The decision was remarkable in light of the fact that, from 2000 to 2010, only 13 children in Indiana were sentenced as adults for murder or attempted murder. None was younger than 14. Juveniles as young as 10 can be tried as adults in Indiana, reported the Star.

The Indiana Court of Appeals announced it will consider granting Paul what amounts to a legal do-over on the 2010 proceedings that led to his particular sentence. According to the Star, the issue before the court is not one of guilt, but whether it was appropriate for Judge Reed to move Paul into adult court at such a young age and to give him an adult's sentence.

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