Goshen News, Goshen, IN

May 1, 2014

ELKHART COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: Elkhart man sentenced to 60 years for murder


---- — GOSHEN — A 20-year-old Elkhart man was sentenced Thursday to 60 years in prison for murder.

Leeshawn Rodgers, formerly of Concord Avenue, was convicted by an Elkhart Circuit Court jury in February of the April 2013 shooting death of Eddie Johnson. The slaying took place in the area of Cleveland Avenue and Sixth Street in Elkhart.

Rodgers appeared in Circuit Court Thursday with his attorney, public defender Matt Johnson. Johnson said his client has maintained his innocence. He also said Rodgers is one of 11 children, and was kicked out of his mother’s home at the age of 10.

The attorney also said his client has grown during his time at the Elkhart County jail.

“Leeshawn has become a fairly religious man,” Johnson said, noting that he was recently a guest speaker at a gathering of preachers.

Citing Rodger’s age and life experiences, Johnson said, “I don’t believe he’s the worst of the worst.”

Prosecutor Peter Britton said Eddie Johnson was shot multiple times. Britton also said the killing took place in a residential area across the street from a park.

Circuit Court Judge Terry Shewmaker said Rodgers went looking for a fight and had a gun. The judge said Rodgers waited in the backyard until Johnson exited a home. A confrontation ensued, according to Shewmaker, and Rodgers shot Johnson and fled. Shewmaker also said Rodgers posed a danger to other children and adults in the area.

Rodgers declined to make a statement in court. He did indicate that he plans to appeal.