Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

October 9, 2012

Suspects to face murder charges

Note: This is an expanded version of a story posted earlier Tuesday, Oct. 9

ELKHART — An Elkhart homeowner was justified in shooting and killing a Goshen man who was burglarizing his home on Oct. 3, according to the county prosecutor.

Prosecutor Curtis T. Hill Jr. called the media to his office Tuesday morning to explain why he will not be charging Rodney Scott, 54, in the shooting and why he has charged four surviving burglary suspects with murder.

“Intruders had arrived at the homeowner’s house at approximately 2:30 in the afternoon while the homeowner was asleep upstairs and he heard a loud crash that was later determined to be two doors that had been busted open by assailants,” Hill said. “The homeowner grabbed a pistol and cell phone and proceeded to go downstairs where he found intruders in his home scurrying about. The homeowner fired shots and after the situation was subdued, was able to contact the police and advise them to bring medics and the police arrived shortly thereafter.”

Hill said Jose Quiroz, 16, Elkhart, Blake Layman, 16, Elkhart, Anthony Sharp, 18, Goshen and Danzele Johnson, 21, Goshen, allegedly broke into the Scott home. Hill said Levi Sparks, 17, Elkhart, allegedly waited outside as a lookout. After breaking through two doors to gain entrance, Hill said one or two of the burglars armed themselves with knives they found in the house.

Scott came downstairs and fired five shots from a handgun and shot Johnson. A bullet grazed Layman, according to Hill. Three of the burglary suspects then fled to a downstairs bedroom and one ran out a door. One of the suspects cornered in the bedroom broke a window and jumped out of the house, but was quickly captured by Elkhart police.

While the intruders were in the bedroom, Hill said Scott called police and asked them to bring an ambulance to the home. He said Scott took no further action against the intruders.

Quiroz, Layman and Sparks are in custody. Hill said a warrant for murder has been issued for Sharp, who has not been found. Prosecutor’s investigator Ed Windbigler said Sharp is believed to still be in the Goshen area and is being sought by police.

A right to defend

Hill said Scott had a right to defend himself in his own home.

“I have determined that Mr. Scott acted reasonably with regards to these events,” Hill said. “Mr. Scott was at home in his own home when four individuals broke in. Upon making a determination that there were folks roaming around his home with unknown intentions, he took actions to defend himself and took what I have determined, reasonable force under the circumstances.”

Asked if the burglars charged Scott, Hill said he did not take that into consideration. He said Scott was in fear for his life.

“He did what I think was reasonable under the circumstances,” Hill said.

Some of the suspects may have been familiar with Scott and his home and may have thought no one was home. Two of the suspects lived in the same neighborhood as Scott, Hill said, but he did not know them on a personal basis but may have had casual knowledge of them. According to Elkhart County Jail records, Quiroz and Layman lived on Frances Avenue.

Also, the investigation is continuing into if the suspects were part of a criminal gang, according to Hill.

Felony murder

Three of the suspects are juveniles under Indiana law, but Hill said he can charge juveniles directly with felony murder. That means they will not have hearings in juvenile court first. Hill expects the suspects will have initial hearings on the murder charges in Elkhart Circuit Court sometime in the next 10 days.

He said this is not the first time he has charged criminal suspects with murder when one of their accomplices has been killed during the commission of a felony.

“I think what you can glean from that is, if you break into someone’s home and you end up getting shot or injured, you can face some serious consequences... People breaking into homes, whether someone is home or someone is not there, it has got to stop,” Hill said. “From our standpoint we are going to use every available measure under the law to stop it... I would like to say we could prevent it, hopefully someone will look at this and say its not worth it. So, we cannot necessarily prevent it, but we can certainly take care of these things when they occur on a case by case basis.”

The prosecutor said his decision in the Scott case is not a blanket ruling for property owners to kill criminal suspects.

“There’s no green light that says this is OK behavior,” Hill said of Scott’s actions. “We look at the circumstances involved.”

He also put the burden for the crime and resulting death on the burglary suspects.

“People need to be held accountable,” he said. “We have a death here, and someone is going to be accountable for that death. And under the circumstances of the people who put this in motion, in this particular instance it is not going to be the homeowner.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • GN140719 fairfield transfer families 02 School transfer rules offers families flexibility When it came time to choose which local school district the Howell children would attend, their parents had a decision to make.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140802 first friday sandblast 06 FIRST FRIDAYS: Volleyball tourney, hoops events take center stage GOSHEN — Lori Shreiner and Kim Gallagher sat in lawn chairs, relaxing after winning their first round of competition in First Fridays SandBlast in downtown Goshen.

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • GN140730 city council summit 01 Proposed annexation vote set for Tuesday GOSHEN — It may seem like jumping the gun, but there’s a method to their madness.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140801 Cellular Connection backpack giveaway 011.jpg For free school supplies, head to The Cellular Connection GOSHEN — Residents in Goshen are about to benefit from a national backpack giveaway campaign. The Cellular Connection, the largest Verizon Premium Wireless Retailer in the United States, in a joint effort with its customers, will be donating 100,000

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140801 jeffery hunt Warsaw man gets 120 years for home invasion

    GOSHEN — An elderly New Paris couple who were victims of a violent home invasion last fall recounted that frightening night during one of their attackers’ sentencing hearing.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • BIZ GN140801 eby ford image 02 Eby Ford renovates showroom and more GOSHEN — The remodeled and expanded Eby Ford, Lincoln, Mercury dealership was celebrated Thursday night during an open house and ribbon cutting. “Without our awesome customers, we wouldn’t be here,” said owner Todd Eby as he addressed the crowd of fr

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • GN140801 Mackowiak new Millersburg marshal.jpg Retired Goshen police officer sworn in as new Millersburg town marshal

    Retired Goshen police officer Al Mackowiak was sworn in as Millersburg's new town marshal Wednesday.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wawasee Conservancy map Conservancy buys wetlands property at Syracuse Lake SYRACUSE — The Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation has purchased 44 1/2 acres of property along the southeast corner of Syracuse Lake. It is adjacent to the CSX railroad tracks, East Shore Drive and Cornelius Road and includes the Bonar Lake wetlands

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140731 Habitat auction2.jpg Friday auction to benefit Habitat SHIPSHEWANA — On Friday, LaGrange County Habitat for Humanity will host its annual auction at Shipshewana Auction Barn.The auction begins at 3:30 p.m. and includes, among many other items, a five-piece bedroom suite, a white oak trestle table and a d

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • City heads seek more employees GOSHEN — Like the 2014 budget, the city of Goshen’s proposed 2015 budget will include a number of requests for new personnel as department heads fight to maintain services amidst growing responsibilities and shrinking coffers.The Goshen City Council

    July 31, 2014

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Classes at Goshen Community Schools and St. John the Evangelist Catholic School will begin the 2014-15 school year on Thursday, Aug. 7. School corporations throughout the state have been trending toward earlier start dates the past few years. When do you think school should start?

I think early August is a good time to start
I think later in August would be a good time to start
I think school should start after Labor Day
     View Results
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction