Live From the Courthouse
Guest writers who were live at the courthouse for the re-sentencing of Blake, Levi and Anthony share their impressions of the day.
Thursday January 7, 2016 was a long time coming. We, like so many others, have been riveted by this case and the plight of the Elkhart4. After the draconian sentence of Felony Murder shattered the worlds of 4 teenagers & their families, we grabbed our camera and headed to Elkhart. We were introduced to Blake’s family and quickly decided the way we could help was to document Blake and his family’s story. Our hope was to add pressure that an appropriate sentence be given. Now 3 years later, we find ourselves back at the Courthouse where Blake’s mother Angie had to be carried down these very stairs, overcome with grief after their original sentencing.
It was still dark outside as we walked up to the courthouse early Thursday morning. The typical Indiana winter bite was absent which was a welcome factor, considering many, including us, would be standing outside awaiting word from inside the courtroom. It was an entirely different vibe in the air – one filled with hope and promise rather than fear and defeat as it were the last time this crowd gathered at this very place. The constant was and has been the supporters formed along the courthouse stairs adorn in their usual Elkhart4 paraphernalia. As the black night faded to daylight, the local media trickled in and positioned themselves in hopes of capturing the boy’s arrival.
We were there when the boys received the difficult news of 45-55 years, and there were some concerns that the boys would be facing the same judge that sentenced them first time round. The court heard from Prosecutor Vicky Becker (no show by Curtis Hill) who summoned the homeowner Rodney Scott to the stand. Mr Scott who has remained pretty quiet since the original trial, was clearly still shaken and disturbed by the events that took place in his home in 2012 which had led him to shoot and kill one of the unarmed teens Danzele Johnson. Blake’s lawyer Cara Wieneke was first to make her case for why Blake should receive the minimum sentence of 6 years. She called David Baylis who runs Arbor Industries and has pledged to hire Blake upon his release. We then heard from Blake’s fiance Katherine Huskey who will be supporting him on his release. Judge Shewmaker was careful to consider all the information and thoughtfully outlined the mitigaters and aggregators- eventually coming to the advised sentence of 10 years for Blake and Anthony, and 9 for Levi.
With time served and good behavior it seems Blake, Levi and Anthony will be coming home in the coming weeks and months. This long-awaited good news was saddled with the unmistakable knowledge that Jose is left in the dust. Many, including us, WHAT ABOUT JOSE?? What were the circumstances for which he felt a 45-year plea bargain was a way out? We are certain that at 16 years old, he could not have been in the position to have made such a decision on his own, without proper guidance. Justice for the Elkhart 4 will only be achieved when Jose’s sentence matches that of Blake, Levi & Anthony. All in all, a proud yet bittersweet moment in the plight of the Elkhart4.
http://www.freetheelkhart4.com would like to thank our guest writers for this fantastic first hand account of what happened at the Elkhart County Courthouse on Thursday January 7, 2016.