Warsaw, Ind. – An appeals court threw out Paul Gingerich’s 2010 guilty plea on Tuesday, overturning the 14-year-old’s 25-year prison sentence and granting him a new trial.
It’s been two years since I first reported on Paul Gingerich. When he was only 12-years-old, he helped 15-year-old Cody Lundy murder Lundy’s stepfather before trying to run away to Arizona. They would both be charged as adults and Gingerich would be sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to the lesser charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
He would also become one of the youngest people in Indiana to be sentenced to prison as an adult.
But that may all change after the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed Gingerich’s 2010 conviction and ordered he get a new trial. They agreed with Monica Foster, the public defender who handled the appeal, that the court in Kosciusko County did not give the boy’s attorneys enough time to make the case that he should have been tried as a juvenile.
“The Constitution won today,” Foster said. “This is a 12-year-old kid who did not get the due-process protection of the U.S. Constitution.”
Back in April of 2010, Lundy and Gingerich each fired two bullets into Lundy’s stepfather, 49-year-old Phillip Danner, in his home as another boy, 12-year-old Chase Williams, stood watch. The boys then headed to Arizona in a car owned by Lundy’s mother where they imagined staying with Lundy’s biological father and sell drugs. They were captured the next day, in Illinois.
A week after his arrest, a Kosciusko County judge ordered Gingerich to be tried as an adult after a two-hour hearing. The boy’s defense was given four days to prepare, instead of the three to four months usually given in similar cases.
Gengerich’s attorney argued they needed more time to conduct a psychological examination, question witnesses, examine case reports, find expert testimony and seek a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether Gingerich understood the charges against him. Their request was denied and Gingerich ended up pleading guilty to the lesser charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
The court has now deemed that this was unconstitutional, also noting that Gingerich didn’t understand the proceedings, didn’t understand plea bargaining, and didn’t understand many of the words used by his lawyer.
None of this means things will work out for Gingerich. Even though his case is going back to juvenile court, he could still be tried as an adult and could even be found guilty of the more serious charge of murder.
But Foster doesn’t feel this will happen. She plans to do all the things Gingerich’s original attorney was not allowed, including bringing expert testimony about child brain development to show that someone Gingerich’s age is unable to fully judge the consequences of their actions.
She also intends to use his past two years at Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility to show that since Gingerich’s incarceration, he has had no disciplinary actions, is a straight A student, and participating fully in his rehabilitation program. “I can show what I would not have been able to show two years ago — that the juvenile justice system is capable of and has been rehabilitating him the last two years,” Foster said.
For anyone wondering why the boy is at a juvenile facility after being tried and sentenced as an adult, he was ordered to begin serving his sentence in Pendleton before being transferred to an adult prison; mainly because at 12-years-old, only 5’3″ and weighing 108 lbs at the time of his sentencing, he would have been turned into a walking Fleshlight.
“He would clearly be victimized relatively quickly,” stated Mike Dempsey, executive director of youth services with the Indiana department of correction.
His new trial may not take place until spring and the Indiana attorney general’s office has not said whether it would appeal the decision. So for now, Gingerich will remain in Pendleton. Personally, I think this is where he really belongs. Putting this kid in adult prison doesn’t do anyone any good and I think society would benefit from this kid remaining in a juvenile facility. I came to this decision partly because of info in this article, and some info from this more biased one.
As for the now 17-year-old Lundy, he also pleaded guilty as an adult to conspiracy to commit murder and is serving a 25-year sentence in the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. Chase Williams, now 14, was sentenced to juvenile detention until age 18.Tags: Colt Lundy, Crime, Indiana, Juvenile, Murder, Paul Gingerich, Shooting