crimesider

12 and 15-Year-Old Indiana Boys Charged with Murder Appear in Adult Court

Police say that on April 20, Colt Lundy, 15, and Paul Gingerich, 13, shot and killed Lundy's stepfather, 49-year-old Phillip Danner in his home in Cromwell, located northwest of Ft. Wayne, Ind.
Gingerich and Lundy in Court (WANE)

KOSCIUSKO COUNTY, Ind. (CBS/WANE) Two boys accused of murdering the stepfather of one of the boys appeared in adult court Thursday, where prosecutors asked the judge to combine the boys' cases into one trial. But defense attorneys said that would violate the boys' constitutional rights, according to CBS affiliate WANE.

Police say that on April 20, Colt Lundy, 15, and Paul Gingerich, 12, shot and killed Lundy's stepfather, 49-year-old Phillip Danner in his home in Cromwell, located northwest of Ft. Wayne, Ind.

"I accept the facts are the same, and it's more convenient for the state to present them once, but the culpability is different for a 15 and 12-year-old," Lundy's attorney David Kolbe said. "To pack those two boys before the same jury deprives them of a fair trial."

Gingerich's attorney said in court that the boys have different degrees of planning and different thoughts about if the shooting was intentional, an accident or justified.

"A trial is very expensive and I'm mindful of that," Kolbe, a former prosecutor, said. "But that consideration does not trump the constitutional right to a fair trial."

Kolbe added that if there is a conviction, a joint trial would set up possible grounds for an appeal.

The judge will make a decision whether or not to combine the cases before the next hearing on June 3rd.

Meanwhile, Lundy and Gingerich are still sharing a cell in the Kosciusko County jail, since once they were waived to adult court, they could no longer be held with other juveniles.

Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department Spokesman Chad Hill said the boys have been doing a lot of school work, and that they play cards and get games from the library to pass the time. A jailer checks on the boys every 30 minutes. Meals are also brought to the inmates, so that the boys don't have interaction with adults in the jail.

A judge handed down punishment Wednesday for another boy involved in the crime. The youth will spend up to six years in a juvenile correctional facility. The 12-year-old boy admitted he stood outside Danner's house, while Lundy and Gingerich shot Danner inside. He then left with Lundy and Gingerich to go to Arizona.

Police reports said the boys were planning to run away to Arizona to sell T-shirts to "drug people," but Lundy said he first had to kill his stepfather. Initial police reports said there were no signs of abuse between Danner and Lundy.

But on Thursday Kolbe alluded to new information about Lundy's upbringing.

"He was in a very unique situation at home and we have substantial evidence of what that home life was like. I know nothing of Paul's home life, but his life is going to be very different from that of Colt Lundy," Kolbe said.

Reporting by CBS affiliate WANE.