CROWN POINT — The former boyfriend of a teen girl who stabbed her mother to death in 2017 was placed on probation Monday after serving more than two years in jail while awaiting trial.
Virgil L. King, 19, admitted in July that he assisted then-15-year-old Chastinea Reeves hide a bloody, broken knife and bloody clothing after she killed her mother, Jamie M. Garnett, 34, on Feb. 13, 2017, in the 4400 block of West 23rd Place in Gary.
King pleaded guilty to a level 5 felony battery resulting in serious bodily injury and a level 5 felony for assisting a criminal.
Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell sentenced him Monday to seven years in prison, giving him credit for more than 1,000 days in jail and good time. She suspended any remaining time behind bars, ordering King to instead serve probation during that time.
Lake County Supervisory Deputy Prosecutor Robert Persin made no specific recommendation on King's sentencing, saying he was conflicted because King provided police with information about the crime and Reeves' whereabouts before her arrest.
However, King seriously injured his stepfather in a fight while he was free on bond, cut off an ankle monitor and fled to Peoria, Illinois, he said.
Police recovered the knife Reeves used, which King and co-defendant Matthew Martin, 18, helped her hide in an abandoned house in the 2000 block of Delaware Street. The knife was coated in Garnett's blood, which contained Reeve's fingerprint, Persin said.
King's juvenile criminal history includes six adjudications, and he failed at probation several times, he said.
Reeves, now 17, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced in June to 45 years in prison.
Martin pleaded guilty in December, received credit for 630 days in jail and was ordered released from jail during a sentencing hearing June 18.
There was no evidence King had any involvement in Garnett's homicide, defense attorney Cipriano Rodriguez said.
King had a rough childhood and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, partly because he discovered the body of an older friend when he was just 5 years old, Rodriguez said.
King had a child while he was free on bond and wants to learn a trade to support the boy, he said.
King told Boswell he wants to leave Northwest Indiana with his son.
Boswell asked if the boy's mother would travel with him, and he said they were no longer together.
"So you think you're going to take your son and leave her here?" Boswell asked.
Boswell rejected Rodriguez's request that King, like Martin, receive a sentence of time served.
"I think he needs some assistance," she said. "I'm convinced he wants to change his life."
Boswell warned King he had a lot of probation ahead of him and he has not been successful with probation in the past. She ordered him to obtain a GED, train in a trade and establish paternity for his child.