WARSAW, Ind. (WANE) — A northern Indiana teenager who admitted to killing a man in April of 2010 learned his fate Monday. 15-year-old Paul Gingerich was originally sentenced to spend 25 years behind bars, but a new law is giving him a new shot at freedom. Monday he was sentenced to spend 25 years under state supervision.
Gingerich was charged with conspiracy to commit murder, a class A felony, as part of a plea agreement. In return the charge of murder and aiding, inducing and causing murder were dropped. In April of 2010, Gingerich said he helped his friend Colt Lundy kill his stepfather 49-year-old Phil Danner. He was one of three juveniles charged in the killing. At the time Gingerich was 12-years-old. It’s believed he is possibly the youngest offender ever sentenced in adult court.
Gingerich has been ordered to stay at a juvenile correctional facility until he turns 18. His defense attorney Monica Foster told NewsChannel 15 that Gingerich could be sent to a residential correctional facility this Summer. In 2016, Gingerich will go before a judge who will then determine whether he should be transferred to an adult prison, put on home monitoring or probation for the remainder of his sentence.
Danner’s Sister to Gingerich: “I will not let you ruin my heart”
Kim Wilson, Danner’s sister, approached the stand and read a letter she wrote as part of her victim impact statement. Most of it aimed at Gingerich. She wanted the court to know that the crime and loss of her brother’s life should not be overlooked because the murderers were minors. Wilson said she had talked with her husband asking, “Why did this have to happen to Phil?” She said her husband believed that he was sacrificed so other didn’t have to die in a shooting spree at a school or elsewhere. She also feels “Paul’s Law” overlooks the loss of her brothers life. That the court is more focused on Gingerich’s age not the crime. Wilson said Gingerich left her brother lying dead and went home and ate dinner with his mom like nothing had happened. She told Gingerich she has to forgive him and wants too.
“I have to forgive you and I will because I will not let you ruin my heart,” victim’s sister Kim Wilson said.
While in prison, Gingerich wrote an apology letter he wanted to send the Danner family, but the Indiana Department of Corrections confiscated that letter. Wilson said she would like to read it one day. The IDOC and Gingerich’s attorney are looking for the letter.
She ended her letter by telling Gingerich that his mind will always be in prison for what he has done.
The Kosciusko County courtroom was silent as 15-year-old Paul Gingerich stood up and spoke for the first time through all of the court proceedings. His mother, father, and family of the victim all present. Gingerich said he had thought a lot about the killing. He started to cry and tried to gain his composure.
“You can no longer call him for advice, to talk about happy things or sad things,” said Gingerich, “If I could, I would change what I have done.”
He told the family he was very sorry for what he had done, and he hopes that may ease some of their pain.
“I know that sorry is not enough.”
NewsChannel 15’s Megan Reust was at Gingerich’s sentencing Monday morning. She will have the latest tonight at 5.