A transcript of Paul H. Gingerich’s participation and involvement in the April 20, 2010, murder of Phillip Danner was admitted as evidence Monday. This transcript provided the court with the factual basis in the case.
Special Judge James R. Heuer, Whitley County Circuit Judge, conducted an initial hearing and plea hearing Monday morning in Kosciusko County. At the end of the two hearings, Heuer took the plea under advisement and set 11 a.m. Feb. 3 for potential plea acceptance and sentencing.
Unlike Gingerich’s first initial and plea hearing in late 2010, the state presented a 25-page transcript into evidence, exposing the facts and confession of Gingerich as to his involvement and participation. Prosecuting attorney Daniel Hampton stated he felt no factual basis was needed during the first hearings, thus the information was never submitted as evidence.
However, once the state’s court of appeals reversed the original waiver and remanded the case back to juvenile court, the opportunity to disclose the information was given.
During the initial hearing Heuer discussed the three charges: murder (killing Danner on April 20, 2010), aiding, inducing and causing murder (aiding Colt Lundy in the killing of Danner) and conspiracy to commit murder (that he agreed with Lundy to kill Danner). He explained each charge as he went and again questioned Gingrich as to his understanding of the charges.
Following each question, Gingerich firmly stated “yes, your honor.”
Heuer also informed Gingerich should he, the judge, use words Gingerich did not understand, to state such and “I’ll explain it to you,” or his attorney, Monica Foster, would explain.
It was also noted for court records that Foster has taken this case pro bono and will continue to do so throughout the process.
During the plea hearing, Heuer went over paragraph by paragraph with Gingerich. He additionally asked Foster if she felt Gingerich was competent to understand the proceedings and information presented to the court.
Foster affirmed his competency to understanding adding through her own observation and the two professional mental health providers.
Every few paragraphs Heuer would ask Gingerich if he understood what was read. The response remained the same: “Yes, your honor.”
The letter from the Department of Corrections Division of Youth Services outlining the placement plan for Gingerich was summarized and read in open court.
The plea agreement, if accepted, calls for the murder and aiding, inducing and causing murder charges be dropped and he waive all rights to a trial.
The plea calls for him to receive a sentence of 30 years, with five years suspended, receiving jail time credit for that time served under the original charges. Suspension of the entire criminal sentence would also be granted pursuant to the new “Juvenile Sentencing” statute.
Based on this new statute, the court can impose a sentence, suspend that sentence and order he be placed into the custody of the department of correction to be placed in the juvenile facility of the division of youth services and direct that successful completion of his placement in a juvenile facility is a condition of the suspended criminal sentence.
The plea additionally states a review hearing will be held as soon as the court’s schedule permits after reaching the age of 18.
At that time the state will consider a maximum security facility, residential placement, electronic monitoring, community corrections program, work release, probation, parole or other appropriate alternatives. The option of being released is not a part of the plea agreement.
It also states Gingerich can appeal the review hearing order.
Gingerich also stated he understood consequences should he not follow guidelines set by the DOC/DYS.
The DOC/DYS plan is to transition Gingerich into general population at Pendleton Juvenile Correctional facility until he achieves his high school diploma, expected to be obtained next summer.
The plan is also to work toward referring Gingerich to one of the six community residential group homes in the state until the age of 18. If accepted into the group home he will be on parole supervision with specified rules and programs. It is noted if no progress is made or violations, he could be returned to DOC.
Heuer also ordered an updated pre-sentence investigation report with probation and a diagnostic evaluation report from the DOC.