Appeals court overturns conviction of 12-year-old boy sentenced to adult prison

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the conviction of an Indiana boy regarded as the youngest person sentenced as an adult in Indiana’s history.

At age 12, Paul Henry Gingerich was sentenced to prison for conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Phil Danner, his friend’s stepfather.

In its ruling, the appeals court said lower courts made a mistake by failing to give Gingerich’s attorneys enough time to argue that the juvenile system would better suit their client. As a result, Gingerich was serving a prison sentence that would likely keep him there until he was 24. He’s now 14 years old.

The ruling will take the case back to juvenile court for a new hearing. It doesn’t mean that Gingerich will go into the juvenile justice system—the state could successfully argue that the case should be elevated to adult court.

Gingerich’s attorneys said a Kosciusko County judge gave them only four days to prepare their argument and claimed that deprived them of due process. The appeals court agreed with that argument.