ELKHART, Ind. (AP) – A new sentencing hearing is scheduled for three northern Indiana men whose murder convictions were previously thrown out by the Indiana Supreme Court.
Blake Layman, Levi Sparks and Anthony Sharp Jr. of Elkhart originally were found guilty of murder in the October 2012 death of an accomplice fatally shot by a homeowner after they broke into a house. They were convicted under a state law that allows murder charges if someone is killed during the commission of another felony.
The state Supreme Court in September threw out the murder convictions and ordered they be sentenced on felony burglary charges. The court denied a petition from the state to rehear the case earlier this month.
The felony burglary charge carries a maximum 20-year sentence. Layman and Sharp had previously received sentences of 55 years in prison, while Sparks received a 50-year sentence.
The three are scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 7, The Elkhart Truth reports.
Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill has defended his interpretation of the state law under which the three were charged with murder, and he has prosecuted other cases similarly. They include the case of Freddie Rhodes and Deante Dalton, who were convicted of felony murder in June for the shooting death of an accomplice during a home invasion.
Attorneys for Rhodes and Dalton are in the process of appealing their case.