A boy believed to be the youngest person convicted as an adult in Indiana will get a fresh start in juvenile court after the Indiana Supreme Court let stand a reversal of his conviction.
The justices on Thursday unanimously denied transfer asked for by the state in the case of Paul Henry Gingerich, who was 12 at the time he and an older boy shot and killed a Kosciusko County man. The Indiana Court of Appeals in December threw out the conviction for Gingerich, now 15.
“I’m very happy with this ruling,” Gingerich attorney Monica Foster of Indianapolis said Friday. “We came out of the appellate process 8-0, and that’s good momentum heading back to Kosciusko County.” Foster said she will continue to represent Gingerich pro bono in the new juvenile proceeding.
Gingerich pleaded guilty and was sentenced as an adult for his role as the younger co-defendant in the 2010 shooting death of Phillip Danner inside his home in Cromwell. Also convicted as an adult was Danner’s stepson, Colt Lundy, who was 15 at the time.
Kosciusko Circuit Judge Rex Reed ordered Gingerich sent to adult prison upon his conviction, but the Department of Correction used its discretion to instead send him to the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility because of his size. Gingerich was 5-feet, 2-inches tall and weighed about 80 pounds at the time of his incarceration.
The case drew international attention because of Gingerich’s age and perceived injustice because, among other things, his defenders were allowed only five days to prepare for a waiver hearing from juvenile court.
“I think justice was done,” Foster said. “I think the appellate court worked very hard to resolve some difficult issues. … It’s time to do this thing right.”
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller appealed the Court of Appeals’ reversal, and in a statement his office said it would aggressively support the new prosecution.
“Having exhausted the appellate remedies, we will continue to work with the Kosciusko County Prosecutor's Office in this difficult matter involving the violent taking of a human life by a juvenile,” said Bryan Corbin, spokesman for the AG’s office. “This offender’s age at the time of the crime prompted a necessary discussion about the rights of the accused, but no one should lose sight of the fact that there is still a deceased victim and the rights of crime victims also should be respected and protected.”
Read more about the Gingerich case in Indiana Lawyer.