Former state prison inmate sentenced to 45 years in burning death of Gary man

2014-02-28T12:17:00Z 2014-02-28T22:01:12Z Former state prison inmate sentenced to 45 years in burning death of Gary manStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
February 28, 2014 12:17 pm  • 

MICHIGAN CITY | An Indiana State Prison inmate convicted of setting another inmate on fire was sentenced Thursday to serve another 45 years in prison.

Prosecutors sought the maximum 60 years for Paul Stucker who was convicted of the 1983 killing of a fellow Indiana State Prison inmate Johnny Hodge, who was from Gary.

Hodge was allegedly one of the leaders of the black Gangster Disciplines while Stucker was affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation white supremicist gang, according to court documents.

"He was a dangerous person in prison," said LaPorte County Deputy Prosecutor Mary Lake.

Stucker, 52, was found guilty Feb. 13 by a LaPorte County jury in the death of 34-year-old Hodge, who was serving life for a double murder.

The defense argued self defense, claiming Stucker was afraid for his life and feared retaliation because of a drug debt owed to Hodge.

Kurt Earnst argued for less than the maximum sentence describing Stucker at the time as young and scared.

Lake, though, said Stucker was serving time for robbery at the time and belonged to a prison branch of the KKK.

The minimum Stucker could have received was 30 years.

According to prosecutors, there was no video surveillance at the time and it took an undercover operation where Stucker admitted on video at a southern Indiana motel in 2012 that he committed the killing to bring charges.

Evidence showed that Stucker obtained gasoline from working in a prison shop where license plates were made and the fuel was used to clean the sheet metal before the plates were painted, authorities said.

The fuel was inside a bucket when Stucker slung the liquid on Hodge from outside his cell and set him ablaze.

Lake said Stucker is currently a suspect in two southern Indiana homicides.

Lake said nobody from Hodge's family was in the courtroom.

Family members when informed in 2007 that the case had been reopened revealed they had disowned him, she said.

"They had kind of written him out of their life and didn't want anything to do with him anymore," said Lake.

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