Curtis Hill Just Spent Over $2 500 000 of Indiana Tax Dollars – ON WHAT?

Tuesday September 17, 2013 — Now that we know the actual sentences in this case we have re-calculated the costs of this case.  It is even more money than our largest estimate in this post.  — Read our new article: It Will Cost Taxpayers at least 3.1 Millions to send the Elkhart 4 to Prison

Hey Indiana you are about to pay a lot of money to send 4 boys to prison for at least 45 years each . . . 4 boys who did not murder anyone, in fact the victim was their friend.   The boys did not shoot the fatal bullet, but now they will pay a huge personal price.

The Republican Prosecutor of Elkhart County Indiana, has just committed tax payers to over $2 500 000 in prison expenses.  Well actually he has committed the Indiana tax payers to pay at least $2 668 140 over the next 45 years, and this is based on the notion that the price of imprisonment will not increase from the 2010 cost of $14 823 per prisoner per year (we all know that won’t happen).  These numbers show the cost if the boys get the minimum sentence of 45 years.  Three of them might get 65 years (if they do add another $889 380 to the budget).  At this point I am not even adding in the costs of appeals.  This much money to be spent to imprison boys who did not shoot anyone.   Here is why . . .

On October 3 2012 four teenagers (Blake Layman 16, Jose Quiroz 16, Levi Sparks 17 and Anthony Sharp Jr. 18) along with an adult friend (21 year old Danzele Johnson) decided to break into a house.  They knocked on the door of the house to see if anyone was home.  When no one answered they decided to break in.  Layman, Quirox, Sharp and Johnson entered the home while Sparks stayed outside.  Unfortunately for all involved the house was occupied by Rodney Scott who was sleeping.

Mr. Scott awoke to the noise of the four boys, grabbed his gun and shot killing Danzele Johnson and injuring Blake Layman.  The police were called to investigate and once they learned what had happened Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill charged  Layman, Quiroz, Sparks and Sharp with felony murder for the murder of their friend and co-burglar Danzele Johnson.  Remember none of the boys shot their friend Danzele.

Since the charges were laid Jose Quiroz has accepted a plea deal  (which he tried to get out of) and got the minimum sentence possible of 45 years in prison.  In August of 2013 Layman, Sparks and Sharp were found guilty and are facing sentencing in September of 2013.  With the rules in Indiana they will get at least 45 years in prison and could get a maximum of 65 years.

By all accounts Blake Layman has never been in trouble with the law and is a good kid.  So Layman is going to spend from 16 until he is at least 61 in prison.  There was no pre-meditation in this killing, no desire by Layman to end the life of his friend.  In fact there was no thought that anyone would die.  Yes, Blake and his friends did a very stupid thing (breaking and entering) and there must be consequences, but felony murder?   45 years in prison?

Blake is going to spend the last years of his teenage life, the first years of his adult life all the way to the end of middle age living with hardened criminals.  By all accounts Blake was a stupid 16 year old guilty of burglary (as a juvenile).   If Blake gets out in 2057 what job prospects does he have?  What possibilities will there be for him?  Who will his support network be?  Who will hire a convicted murderer?  How much welfare will the state need to pay for him to survive?  What kind of a man will he be after 45 years in an institution of abuse?  Decisions made by Curtis Hill in the next few weeks will go a long way to determine what type of a person Blake Layman will be in 2057.

Blake Layman -- Middle

Blake Layman in the middle with his mom and brother.

Did Mr. Hill think about all this when he charged and prosecuted this kid?   If Blake Layman commits a crime in 2057 and goes back to jail is it because of the 2012 burglary, or is it a result of Mr. Hill’s ridiculous decision to charge felony murder and subject Blake to at least 45 years in prison?  Mr. Hill has a lot to answer for!

For Layman, Sparks, Sharp and Quiroz there is a moment where they can be redeemed and that moment is now, it is not in 2057.  None of these boys killed a person; in fact they all lost a friend.  They all did a very stupid thing, but there was no pre-meditated murder.  There is no doubt they need to be punished (for burglary), but 45 years in prison?  Does this make sense?

Congratulations to Mr. Hill, who has won his case.  We all now know he is hard on crime.  We also know he is willing to subject 16, 17 and 18 year olds to decades of abuse and neglect because of stupid teenage behaviour which led to a horrific tragic accident.  Elected officials without compassion are a huge problem and the public need to stand up and demand better from our leaders!

Just remember next time you vote that Mr. Hill has committed the taxpayers of Indiana to over $2 500 000 in prison costs over the next 45 years because he sees no possibility for redemption in these boys (see at the end of this post the story of US Senator Alan K. Simpson).  Are the streets of Elkhart County safer today then they were when these boys were walking them?

So residents of Indiana remember when the government is cutting services, raising taxes and cutting public sector jobs you are also spending millions to keep these four in prison.   A group of boys did a very stupid burglary which led to an unintentional and tragic death.  What happened to Danzele Johnson is a true tragedy.  The situation these boys put Rodney Scott in is awful.  This tragedy will be much worse if Curtis Hill gets his way and sends these boys to prison for 45 – 65 years!

A ruthless, heartless prosecutors irrational decision has ruined the lives of these 4 young men and committed the taxpayers of Indiana to decades of heavy financial commitments.  He could have charged them with burglary.  He could have charged 3 of them as juveniles.  These boys are not the worst of the worst . . . they are not murderers who planned the killing.

Blake Layman now 17,  Levi Sparks now 18 and Anthony Sharp Jr. now 19 will be sentenced on September 12, 2013.  

Tell the Curtis Hill to end this craziness ( ).  

Tell the judge that this insanity can’t continue.

Sign the petition supporting Blake Layman and his friends —

Curtis Hill 3


Cost of prisons in Indiana:

Local news coverage of the trial — watch the video with the families reacting to the verdict.

Blog about the trial

Finally:  US Senator (1979 – 1997) Alan K. Simpson from Wyoming submitted a brief to the US Supreme Court detailing his actions when he was a teenager.  He stated.  “I was a monster.”

His story as written in his brief is abbreviated as follows:

One day in Cody, Wyoming, when Simpson was in high school, he and some friends “went out to do damage.” They went to an abandoned war relocation structure and decided to “torch” it. They committed arson on federal property, a crime now punishable by up to twenty years in prison if no one is hurt, and punishable by up to life in prison if the arson causes a person’s death. Luckily for Simpson, no one was injured in the blaze.
Simpson not only played with fire, but also with guns. He played a game with his friends in which they shot at rocks close to one another, at times using bullets they stole from the local hardware store. The goal of the game was to come as close as possible to striking someone without actually doing so. Again, Simpson was lucky: no one was killed or seriously injured.
Simpson and his friends went shooting throughout their community. They fired their rifles at mailboxes, blowing holes in several and killing a cow. They fired their weapons at a road grader. “We just raised hell,” Simpson says. Federal authorities charged Simpson with destroying government property and Simpson pleaded guilty. He received two years of probation and was required to make restitution from his own funds – funds that he was supposed to obtain by holding down a job.
… As he [Simpson] has described it, “The older you get, the more you realize . . . your own attitude is stupefying, and arrogant, and cocky, and a miserable way to live.”

Simpson continued: I was just dumb and rebellious and stupid. And a different person.” And then added; “You’re not who are when you’re 16 or 18. You’re dumb, and you don’t care and you think you are eternal.”




  • The boys were guilty of felony murder. The family needs to quit crying about this. The fact that these “Boys” were already a criminal empire in the making, they have saved tax payers much, much more than that in theft, property damage, and who knows what else they would have done. Society has no place for people like this.

    • Thanks for being the first comment. Your view of criminal justice seems to follow the simplistic idea “do the crime, do the time” and you seem to suggest that putting these 4 boys in prison for 45 years will make the community safer. If you are correct the USA would be the safest country in the world. The USA loves to jail people . . for every 100 000 people the USA 750 people are in prison. This is 6 -7 times more people per 100 000 than any other western democracy . . . even with all those people in jail the murder rate in the USA is far higher than any other western country (Canada, Europe, Australia). The system is not working. Innovative justice initiatives world wide are reforming criminals and reducing crime rates, but the USA seems to keep on the simplistic path of jailing people.

      Can you present studies that shows your system works?

      The USA is also financially bankrupt. The country is in for a big wake up call as federal, state and local deficits rise to a point where they can’t be maintained. Studies and statistics tell us that keeping these 4 boys in prison for 45 years won’t make the streets safer instead these boys will be more dangerous in 2057 after 45 years exposed to criminal and abuse. 45 years will cost millions of dollars and nothing will be achieved. Years of intensive study and research has proven this.

      The justice system you seem to support is making the USA more dangerous, contributing to the bankruptcy of the country and destroying communities and families.

      Locking the door and throwing away the key will not work yet most people, like you seem to advocate for such a system.