Yesterday’s ruling on the Paul Henry Gingerich case is an event that doesn’t happen very often. This outcome means a lot to me because it demonstrates that my efforts have made a difference in at least one kid’s life in a small way.
And by “small way,” I mean that in more ways than you realize. Like I said yesterday, this is mostly Monica Foster’s doing. When the case got to her, Paul had already signed away his right to an appeal as part of his plea bargain in his first trial, and things looked pretty hopeless. But he was a 12-year-old kid who had been bullied into his role in the incident, Dan Hampton’s predecessor was guilty of gross overreach and vengeance, and it is a tribute to Monica Foster that she pursued this cause so relentlessly and cleverly for so many years. That is why you have heard so much “reaffirmation” of the original sentence through the whole judicial process. But as any great lawyer knows, there’s a big difference between what’s said on paper and what actually happens.
I must also tell you that none of this would have happened if it were not for Wolfgang Faber of Germany, a reader of the Diary who had been following this case and put me onto it in the first place—on the very day that Paul had received his original 30-year sentence. Monica Foster didn’t just show up on her own; I found her through John Feighner, a Fort Wayne IN attorney and old family friend, who told me that Monica is “a force of nature”—and I assure you she is.
As Monica said yesterday, Paul Henry Gingerich worked very hard, and a big part of this outcome is due to him. He turned out to be a model prisoner and student. He is genuinely remorseful. But also unsung are the efforts, support, and friendship given to me by Paul Henry’s dad, who has become one of my best friends through this process. Even if the outcome were not as positive as yesterday’s, my friendship with Paul Sr. would have made me a big winner in all of this. I hope the friendship continues for years.
Prosecution, Defense Share Views On Gingerich Case
by The Ink Free Press
October 29, 2016
Dan Hampton, county prosecutor, and Monica Foster, counsel for Paul Gingerich, spoke to the press following the close of a sentence modification for Gingerich, who has been in prison since January 2011 for the murder of Phil Danner in April 2010.
Hampton and Foster both spent time explaining the modification of Gingerich’s sentence as well as the recent outcome.
Hampton, who spent time with the Danner family explaining the sentence modification, recapped the entire case in a prepared statement before taking questions from the media. He also read the letters from Danner’s sister, Kim Wilson, and daughter, Natasha Hoffman.
“The court maintained and upheld the 30-year sentence as the court originally imposed and fashioned the structure as a state monitoring continuation for the 30-year period,” said Hampton. “Paul Gingerich was advised, if he violated any terms or conditions of these programs he will be committed to the Indiana Department of Corrections’ adult facility.”
Hampton stated, “The Danner family has experienced a loss that you’ll never understand and then to have one of the offenders be treated in a way of the alternative sentencing statue designed and called Paul’s law the name of the offender, it is very difficult for them to understand how this sentence has been transpiring,” said Hampton. “I spent a lot of time after the hearing, talking with them and explaining to them the sentence and explaining the law. They understand and are adamant the legislation be informed of some type of addressing the problem with this law.”
One problem is that 10 offenders under this sentencing have not, nor will they, be entered into a system used to produce criminal background checks due to guidelines. He stated communication lines with officials needs to begin on what needs to be changed to have these offenders’ adult convictions added to criminal history of their prior history. He added he has been tasked by the judge to pursue and to notify him and Foster about the changes and the judge will address the issue.
Additionally Hampton stated he appreciated Heuer’s stance on the fact of keeping Paul Gingerich under the state’s eye for the 30 years, the original sentence. “Someone who commits this type of offense is wired differently, they have some type of mental thing going on and you never know if or how or when it will reoccur if ever. We do know it happened once … has to be monitored. We know for the next 10-15 years the state will be monitoring.
“On behalf of the victim’s family … we would have appreciated Paul to be remaining in the Department of Corrections for a longer period of time. But we also grateful we’re going to monitor his conduct the next 10-15 years.
Defense Pleased With Outcome
“We kept this 12-year-old boy from ever having to go to an adult facility as a juvenile and when he does go to an adult facility, he will be there for a short period of time,” said Foster on the ruling. Think the sentence today was just, in that he has been punished … this is a kid with a conscious. It will weigh on him for the rest of his life, as well it should.”
Handling criminal law for 33 years, Foster stated not all offenders are that way. “He took a man from his family for no good reason, none. And it should weigh on his conscious and it does. That’s not always true, but it is certainly true with this child.”
Foster related the family’s response as that of relief, gratefulness and happiness. But she noted it was not lost on the Danner family who has had to go through turmoil and pain in the process. “I think she,” referring to Gingerich’s mother, “is going to be thrilled to have her baby boy back with her. I think it’s going to come as a little bit of a surprise to her that he’s not such a baby any more.”
As for Gingerich’s future, she stated he is like any other kid that age, one time is one thing, the next it’s another. “I think he is going to do something good. I think he has had the opportunity for self reflection that most his age have not had. He’ll do something to give back to society,” she projects noting that this has been overwhelming for him as a teen, and her as an adult.
She did share that while there are legal reasons why co-defendant Colt Lundy was treated different than Gingerich, the age was also a factor. “Paul was younger, less developed … both absolutely culpable for what he did. There is a difference what he did as a 12-year-old and Colt did as a 15-year-old. Colt should have been treated similarly as Paul.”
Noting the programs at the Pendleton Juvenile facility work on rehabilitating these kids, she is not worried about Gingerich returning to society. “Had he been in an adult facility, I would be worried about him. I do worry about Colt Lundy.”
Foster noted she is aware of 10 cases that have utilized Paul’s Law since it came into affect, where juveniles went back to court. “In each one of those instances, judges did not commit them to an adult facility.”
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