Criminal Justice

Imprisoned at 12, Indiana Boy Appeals 25-Year Sentence

Some question about a pre-teen's ability to understand what the hell is going on


INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana boy sent to prison at age 12 for helping a friend kill the other boy's stepfather was tried in adult court by a judge who didn't consider whether the sixth grader was mature enough to understand what was happening.

That's the argument attorneys for Paul Henry Gingerich will bring Tuesday to the Indiana Court of Appeals, which is being asked to throw out the boy's guilty plea and 25-year prison sentence. Lawyers for Gingerich, who is now 14, want the case sent to juvenile court for a fresh start before a new judge.

But state attorneys argue that the boy gave up his right to appeal when he signed a plea agreement. They also say his parents believed the boy knew what he was doing.