CROWN POINT — A Merrillville man avoided additional jail time Wednesday for planning a robbery that led to the death of a Schererville woman in 2012.
Michael A. Craig, 31, had been to Jacqueline Gardner's apartment before the robbery, because his girlfriend worked with Gardner, Lake County Supervisory Deputy Prosecutor Eric Randall said.
It was that connection that led Craig and his co-defendants William Blasingame III, 39, of Harvey, Illinois, and Stephen L. Henderson, of Gary, to plan to rob Gardner, 24, and her boyfriend May 19, 2012, as she returned home from work.
Craig waited in a vehicle while Blasingame and Henderson attacked Gardner in a hallway outside her apartment and shot her to death.
Craig's attorneys, Joshua Malher and Maryam Afshar-Stewart, said he deserved a more lenient sentence because his cooperation helped the state secure convictions against his co-defendants.
Lake Criminal Court Judge Samuel Cappas sentenced Craig to four years in prison. With credit for about two years served while awaiting a resolution in his case and good time, Craig will not have to serve any additional time.
Gardner's mother, Joan Gardner, said her daughter was a wonderful person who left two children behind. One of the children was still breast-feeding when Jacqueline Gardner was killed.
Randall asked for an eight-year sentence, partly because Craig has had multiple contacts with law enforcement and was charged in two minor cases after his release from jail on charges related to Gardner's homicide.
Malher and Afshar-Stewart said Craig has only one prior misdemeanor conviction from before Gardner's homicide.
He has changed his life for the better since 2012 and has eight children, they said.
Craig apologized to Gardner's family and said he thinks about his crime every day. He said he hoped one day they would forgive him.
Cappas sentenced Blasingame and Henderson to 10-year terms each, the maximum under their plea agreements.