MICHIGAN CITY — Charles Gerron, 22, was given a 50-year prison sentence Tuesday for the 2015 murder of a teen girl attending a birthday party.
The victim's father, Kalvon Hawkins, of Michigan City, walked out of the courtroom expressing relief his daughter’s convicted killer could be close to 70 years old before regaining freedom. He was not totally satisfied, though.
"He needed more time than what he got. He gave us a life sentence," Hawkins said.
Gerron was 16 when he fired three shots aimlessly toward a large crowd of people leaving a birthday party in July 2011 at Memorial Park on Michigan City’s east side, according to police.
One of the rounds struck 17-year-old NeKeisha Hodges-Hawkins in the back of the head.
LaPorte County Prosecutor John Espar, citing factors like the defendant’s criminal history as a juvenile and a felony conviction for his role in a drive-by shooting one year after the killing, asked for the maximum sentence.
"You have an individual here that literally has lived a life of crime," Espar said.
During sentencing, LaPorte Superior Court 1 Judge Michael Bergerson said Gerron revealed his "true character" by changing his clothes after the killing and voluntarily going to the police station with his mother as a cover-up.
"His first instinct was to save himself and lie to the police. A lie that he kept on living for over five years," Bergerson said.
He was arrested in December after the victim's father began protesting the case remaining unsolved.
The case nearly crumbled in June with a plea agreement containing just one year in jail for criminal recklessness after one of the two witnesses balked. Bergerson rejected the plea, though. After some encouragement by prosecutors, the reluctant witness later agreed to testify.