CROWN POINT | The mental state of a Gary man convicted of shooting a close friend to death dominated his sentencing hearing Monday, as it had his trial.
Jamal Gore, 32, was sentenced to 52 years in prison.
"This is a hard case," Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell said before handing down the sentence.
Boswell chided the closing of community health centers some 30 years ago, saying it was a foregone conclusion that society was heading for problems with the neglect of the mentally ill.
Jurors in November deliberated two hours before finding Gore guilty but mentally ill in the shooting death of 29-year-old John Barry Davis and the wounding of Davis' girlfriend in May 2010.
The couple picked up Gore after Gore called them the morning of the shooting, later opening fire on the couple.
Davis, a close friend of Gore's since boyhood, died from multiple gunshot wounds. The woman suffered a gunshot wound to the leg.
Attorney Scott King's insanity defense rested on Gore's well-documented schizophrenia. Gore plunged into mental illness beginning in his teens and was frequently hospitalized.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michael Woods had prepared jurors to hear quite a bit about Gore's schizophrenia but added they'd also hear testimony about Gore telling police he was tired of "Davis messing with him" and that he intended to kill the man.
On Monday, the attorneys sparred over imprisoning the mentally ill man for 45 years or more given Indiana's "guilty but mentally ill" option.
"There is no program," King said of drug treatment for inmates at the Indiana Department of Correction. "They're warehoused and thrown in a cell."
King recounted how most community health centers closed about 30 years ago, casting the mentally ill on their own and eventually giving rise to repeated mass shootings.
"In this country, if you have no money and you are mentally ill, you are kicked to the curb," he said. "There is no reason for this shooting other than his illness."
Earlier, Gore's mother had testified to doing all she could for her son within the system as it exists.
"I'm truly sorry for what my son has done," she said. "I loved John."
However, Woods argued jurors chose a verdict with an "important distinction." Woods argued the verdict spoke to Gore's being ill but able to know what he was doing.
"Jamal Gore made decisions to go off his medications again and again," Woods argued, describing Gore's behavior as willful.
"He chose to bring that gun that day," he said.
But Boswell questioned Woods' conclusions, saying Gore's pattern of stopping his medication was part of the syndrome itself.
"The system failed him this time," she said, making note of his mother's continued efforts to get help.