12-year-old sentenced as adult after fatally shooting man has been released from prison at 19
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – After spending nearly seven years behind bars, 19-year-old Paul Henry Gingerich was released from prison in March.
Now, he is living with his mother in Fort Wayne, while undergoing 24-hour electronic monitoring and close supervision by the courts, according to our newsgathering partners at the Indy Star.
When Gingerich was 12, he and another boy, 15-year-old Colt Lundy, fatally shot Lundy’s stepfather, Phil Danner, in Kosciusko County. Both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and were sentenced as adults to 25-year prison terms.
Legal experts tell the Star that they cannot point to any other cases in which someone as young as 12 had been sentenced as an adult in Indiana.
After Gingerich’s sentencing, child advocates and juvenile justice groups pushed for a change to Indiana’s juvenile sentencing guidelines, which resulted in a new law called “Paul’s Law.” The legislation granted courts greater flexibility in blending aspects of juvenile and adult sentences.
When Gingerich was 15, he appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court, which granted him a new trial. The judge applied the new sentencing rules and agreed to monitor the teen’s progress in juvenile prison until releasing him in 2017.
Lundy never pursued a second trial under the new system. His earliest possible release date is 2021, according to the Star.
Meanwhile, Gingerich will wear a GPS-monitoring device on his ankle and be tracked 24 hours a day until July 2018. He will be able to work his job at a manufacturing facility as well as make legal appointments outside his home, the Star reports. With a pass, he can also reportedly go to church, go shopping or do things such as get a haircut.
Allen Superior Court Magistrate Samuel Keirns told the Star that Gingerich has so far complied with the terms of the program. Gingerich’s mother, Nicole, told the paper that her son may soon move into his own apartment.
“He’s really working hard on doing everything he is supposed to do and really trying to move forward,” she said.
The court’s supervision will continue until February 2020, when Gingerich will begin 10 years of probation.
The Indianapolis Star contributed to this report.