Man given 125 years for mentor's death

2014-03-20T14:56:00Z 2014-03-21T14:15:15Z Man given 125 years for mentor's deathStan Maddux Times Correspondent
March 20, 2014 2:56 pm  • 

A convicted murderer will likely live the rest of his life behind bars.

Marzono Shelly, 36, formerly of Gary, received a 95-year sentence Thursday for the execution-style slaying and robbery of a Michigan City resident, a man who had once been his mentor.

An additional 30 years was added for Shelly as his status of a habitual criminal with violent offenses like involuntary manslaughter in the past.

LaPorte County Deputy Prosecutor Michael Bergerson sought 165 years for Shelly, but wasn't upset about the sentence.

"I don't think he'll be walking around the streets of LaPorte County or the state anymore," Bergerson said.

Harper, a veteran, was a steelworker living in Gary when he first came to know Shelly. Harper worked with troubled inner-city youth.

Harper included Shelly in activities like fishing, but Shelly wound up in prison for much of his adulthood. Later, Harper moved to Michigan City.

Bergerson said Shelly had been out of prison just 30 days when, by chance, he ran into Harper on a South Shore Line commuter train in 2012.

Harper was returning from a Veterans Administration hospital in Chicago while Shelly was heading to his aunt's house in Michigan City.

The two men became reacquainted. Just days later, Shelly shot Harper five times in his home.

Shelly fled the Elston Street home in the Harper's car, stealing his wallet and alcohol. Within eight hours, Shelly was arrested at a Michigan City home a few miles east from Harper's house.

LaPorte Superior Court 1 Judge Kathleen Lang said the brutality of the crime was among the factors that could not be overlooked in elevating the sentence above the 55-year minimum.

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