KOSCIUSKO COUNTY, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- He's only a child, but 12-year old Paul Gingerich was sentenced Tuesday like an adult in connection with a gun slaying last spring.
Defense lawyers in the Kosciusko County case say the punishment handed down does not equate to justice served.
A 25-year sentence was doled out to the young boy on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder for the shooting death of 49-year old Phillip Danner.
Danner was shot and killed in his Cromwell home in April of last year.
The sentence for Gingerich is essentially what Danner's 15-year old stepson Colt Lundy received, and Gingerich’s lawyers say that’s not fair, because they believe Lundy was the mastermind behind the killing.
Gingerich told the court he was sorry for what happened to Danner, saying, “I did wrong and I stand ready to take my punishment.”
Lundy obtained guns and he and Gingerich shot and killed Danner, before the two boys and another 12-year old drove to Illinois, where they were apprehended.
Lundy told authorities the boys planned to run away to Arizona and sell t-shirts to drug dealers.
The defense argues Lundy hatched the idea and bullied the others into going along with the killing.
William Cohen/Defense Lawyer: " He's like a pied piper. He's a 15-year old boy telling these 12-year old boys what to do, and that's basically what happened, it's not like Paul Gingerich, a 12-year old, had any idea to do that."
Cohen claims that Lundy at times shot the other boys with BB guns, and that they followed his lead out of fear.
Cohen and co-counsel Fred Franco were most disturbed that Kosciusko County Circuit Court Judge Rex Reed sent Gingerich to the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, a youth incarcerated as adults center, rather than a juvenile prison.
The family of Phillip Danner did not speak at the hearing, but Judge Reed said they expressed their frustration to him in letters, questioning why the murder charges against Lundy and Gingerich were thrown out in plea agreements.
Prosecutors opted to accept the lesser conspiracy to commit murder charges.
Judge Reed said this case has caused him much frustration, that he'd like to know why the killing happened, but he conceded we’d likely never get a satisfactory answer.
He added we couldn’t lose sight of the fact this case is really about Phillip Danner, who cannot be brought back to his grief-stricken family.
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