The Indiana Supreme Court has just overturned a felony murder conviction for three of the four men known as the Elkhart Four.
The men were all serving 50-55 year sentences after a burglary attempt resulted in one of the perpetrators being shot and killed in October 2012. Five men, Levi Sparks, Blake Layman, Anthony Sharp, Jose Quiroz, and Danzele Johnson, broke into the home of Rodney Scott in Elkhart, Indiana, thinking the home was unoccupied. Scott, who was upstairs, shot at the intruders, killing Johnson.
The surviving perpetrators of the burglary were charged with Johnson’s death under the felony murder statute. Felony murder, a frequently debated form of criminal law, allows for a defendant to be convicted of murder when someone dies in the course of a crime, even if the defendant did not kill the victim themselves. In this case, none of the men convicted was armed at the time.
Sparks, Layman, and Sharp all filed appeals. Quinoz did not. Lawyers for the three men whose convictions were overturned argued that they had no violent intentions, were not seeking confrontation, and should not be held accountable for the death of Johnson.
Sparks, Layman, and Sharp will be resentenced under burglary charges by the Elkhart Circuit Court. Attorneys for both Layman and Sharp may be able to seek juvenile sanctions on the resentencing since both were juveniles when the crime occurred.
Any criminal allegations are serious and it’s important to find a criminal defense attorney who will defend your rights in a court of law.
Elkhart Four felony murder convictions overturned by Indiana Supreme Court, www.indystar.com Kristine Guerra, 18 Sept 2015