The Indianapolis Star is reporting that the State has agreed to a new plea agreement in the Paul Henry Gingerich murder case. The deal utilizes the new blended sentencing law (IC 31-30-4) that arose specifically because of Paul’s case. Paul would be allowed to remain in the Indiana Department of Correction (DOC), Division of Youth Services, until he obtains his high school diploma. Paul could then be transferred to a residential treatment facility. After turning eighteen, the sentencing judge would review Paul’s behavior and could release him to probation. If Paul’s behavior were to deteriorate, he could be required to serve the remaining term of incarceration in the adult portion of the DOC.
Paul’s case received international attention for the swift waiver hearing that moved Paul from juvenile court to adult court, and the subsequent sentencing of a twelve-year-old child to twenty-five years in prison. For some background, including the facts, see the appellate order.
Monica Foster, currently the Chief Federal Public Defender for the Indiana Federal Community Defender’s office, took on Paul’s case pro bono. She successfully argued the appeal and has remained on the case preparing for a second waiver hearing that will be avoided if the reported plea agreement is finalized with the court. It is hard to adequately portray the level of commitment and determination that Monica has shown to this case. Along the way, many others in the public defender community have offered their support and expertise.
The story is not complete without a shout-out to Mike Dempsey (scroll down to get his biography), from the DOC, who has been a strong advocate for Paul and the new blended sentencing law. It was Mike Dempsey who agreed to house a twelve-year-old child with other juveniles, despite the murder conviction, and gave Paul access to educational and rehabilitative resources in the Division of Youth Services that he would not have received in prison.
Amazing, amazing work!