INDIANAPOLIS – An Indiana judge who sent a then 12-year-old boy to adult court where he received a 25-year sentence for helping a friend kill his stepfather won’t preside over a second hearing to determine whether he should be tried as a juvenile.
Attorney Monica Foster, who handled Paul Henry Gingerich’s successful appeal, requested and received a new judge, the Indianapolis Star reports.
Whitley County Judge James Heuer has been appointed to handle the case.
Gingerich is now 15 and in a state juvenile prison at Pendleton.
In December, the Indiana Court of Appeals threw out Gingerich’s guilty plea and sentence, saying a Kosciusko County judge rushed when he waived the case to adult court.
The appellate court ordered a new hearing to determine whether Gingerich should be retried in a juvenile court.
The Indiana Supreme Court last month declined to hear the case, clearing the way for the new hearing.
Foster argued that Gingerich’s guilty plea was invalid because the case never should have been heard in an adult court, that Gingerich hadn’t understood the proceedings and that he had believed the judge was obligated to find him guilty.
Foster also said the lower court had not allowed Gingerich’s attorneys sufficient time to prepare or conduct a proper investigation into his competency for an adult trial, and accepted a probation officer’s erroneous testimony concerning the availability of facilities other than prisons for youths convicted of violent crimes.
Gingerich was one of three juveniles charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the April 2010 shooting at 49-year-old Phillip Danner’s home near Lake Wawasee, about midway between Fort Wayne and South Bend.
Police said Gingerich and a 15-year-old co-defendant shot and killed Danner while another 12-year-old boy stood lookout.
The 15-year-old pleaded guilty as an adult and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
The other boy was sentenced to juvenile detention until age 18.