I just learned the story of the ‘Elkhart Four’ from Elkhart, Indiana. It is a story of five friends aged sixteen to twenty-one who decided to break into a home and burglarize it. They thought the house was empty and to their dismay found out they were wrong when the homeowner confronted them inside his own home with a firearm.
The homeowner shot one of the burglars and the burglar died; another was hit and lived. The four that lived through their crime were tried as adults and received sentences ranging from 45 to 55 years in prison because the burglary charge was enhanced due to a death during the commission of the crime.
The law in Indiana says that if during the commission of a felony a person dies, the person or persons committing the felony are guilty of murder. Since the four committed the felony of burglary, they are responsible for their co-conspirators’ death. The reasoning being had each one of them decided not to commit the crime in the first place, their co-conspirator would not have been shot inside that other person’s home.
Now, there are people claiming that the four should not have been tried as adults since they were still teens, they were unarmed, a teenager’s brain has not matured enough to understand the consequences, and none of them entered the home with the intention of killing anyone. My response to that would be their criminal actions were the catalyst that resulted in someone getting killed and therefore they are responsible for the death. As far as them being as young as 16 is also irrelevant in my opinion. By the time I was 12 I knew that if I committed a crime or just disobeyed my parents, there would be hefty penalties. Also, at 17 people can enlist in the military. If you are old enough to enlist at 17, you are old enough to understand the consequences of your actions.
The Indiana Supreme Court is set to hear the appeal on this case this month. It is my honest hope that they keep these four behind bars for a long, long time.