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Indiana Statehouse

Inside the Indiana Court of Appeals courtroom at the Indiana Statehouse.

A Gary man who shot and killed an unarmed 15-year-old in front of a group of teenagers and adults at a Michigan City intersection in 2004 is entitled to no further reduction in his 60-year prison term, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

Wilbert Sturgis, 41, was convicted of murder in 2005 for killing Blake Kelly on Sept. 20, 2004, near Ninth Street and Willard Avenue where two groups of people were threatening to fight each other, according to court records.

Records show Sturgis — the only person in either group with a gun — walked up to Kelly and shot him in the jaw, injuring Kelly. Sturgis then put the handgun against the side of Kelly's head and fired again, killing him.

Sturgis initially was sentenced to 65 years in prison. That was reduced following an appeal to 60 years, due in part to Sturgis' attorney failing to argue during the sentencing hearing that Sturgis' remorse warranted a lesser sentence, according to court records.

In his latest appeal, Sturgis argued for a further reduction in his prison term because he turned himself in to police.

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He also said his sentence was inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and his character.

The appeals court rejected both claims in its 3-0 decision.

According to the ruling, the appeals court declined to give any weight to Sturgis turning himself in to police because Sturgis initially told police he was out of town at the time of the murder and could not have committed it.

It also said Sturgis' 60-year sentence — five years above the presumptive sentence and five years below the maximum — appropriately accounted for the violent nature of the crime and Sturgis' prior criminal record, including armed robbery, substance abuse and gang affiliation.

Sturgis, who records show is incarcerated at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, still can ask the Indiana Supreme Court to review the appellate ruling.

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