New Plea Gives Teen Killer Chance At Reduced Sentence In 3 Years (VIDEO)

By Linda Jackson - 21Alive
By Emma Koch - 21Alive
By Jeff Neumeyer

February 3, 2014 Updated Feb 4, 2014 at 10:15 AM EDT

KOSCIUSKO COUNTY, Ind. (21Alive) -- A special judge Monday ratified a new plea deal for a 15-year old Kosciusko County boy, who was only 12 when he took part in a cold-blooded murder.

The new agreement could mean the boy has the chance to be released from locked detention after he turns 18.

Special Judge Jim Heuer from Whitley County said in court, I've studied the files on this case over and over, and I still don't know how a 12-year old could have committed such a terrible crime.

But on this day, Judge Heuer accepted a plea for the now 15-year old Paul Gingerich, sentencing him a second time to 25 years for conspiracy to commit murder in the 2010 slaying of Phillip Danner.

He was the stepfather of Colt Lundy, a friend of Gingerich.

Lundy was the instigator in the homicide.

Gingerich claims he'd never even met Danner until he pumped two bullets into the victim.

An earlier plea calling for 25 years was overturned by an appeals court that found Gingerich's lawyer didn't have sufficient time to prepare a defense.

Now, under a new statute, named "Paul's Law", Gingerich will get a review after age 18, and may get to serve the rest of his sentence on something like electronic monitoring or on probation.

Prosecutors insist he won't be a free man.

“When he does the review hearing at the age of 18, to turn 19, then we'll re-address the level of detention that he'll be placed under," said Kosciusko County Prosecutor Dan Hampton.

Gingerich gave a tearful apology in court, saying, “If I could change it all, I would. I know sorry isn't enough.”

His new lawyer says the latest research suggests Gingerich's brain wasn't fully developed when he pulled the trigger.

“I know that there are people that will scoff at that, but that is the state of neuro-science right now, and its been accepted by the U-S Supreme Court," said defense attorney Monica Foster.

Phillip Danner's sister addressed the court at sentencing, saying there's been too much attention put on the age of the shooters, and not enough on the crime.
She said she knows she must forgive, because she has no intention of letting this ruin her heart.

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