INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Court of Appeals on Tuesday overturned 14-year-old Paul Henry Gingerich's adult conviction for conspiracy to commit murder.
The panel of judges found the juvenile court judge erred when waiving Gingerich to adult court after his attorneys had just a few days to prepare for the hearing. The judge repeatedly denied a motion to continue, which prejudiced the boy, the ruling said.
Specifically, his lawyers were not able to investigate whether Gingerich was competent.
The case has been sent back to Kosciusko County for further proceedings, though the Indiana Attorney General's Office can appeal the ruling to the Indiana Supreme Court.
Gingerich's lawyer argued earlier this year that she believes she can prove he was incompetent back in 2010 to stand trial.
But if Gingerich is waived to adult court again, prosecutors can file a murder charge against him carrying a possible 65 years in prison. And there is no guarantee he would receive a favorable plea agreement with prosecutors again.
Gingerich, then 12, and Colt Lundy, then 15, were charged with murder in the death of Philip Danner, Lundy's stepfather. They shot him to death April 20, 2010, inside his Kosciusko County home.
Both pleaded guilty to charges of aiding in a murder.
Gingerich received a 25-year-sentence, and the Indiana Department of Correction placed the boy in its Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility, citing his age and the department's obligation to keep him safe.
- To see the appeals court decision, click here.