INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Court of Appeals has unanimously affirmed the murder conviction of Thomas Reichler, of Porter, who at age 18 caused the death of a Portage man by shooting him in front of his wife and children.
According to court records, Reichler and two accomplices were stealing items from unlocked cars in the early morning hours of Dec. 12, 2014, when Alexius Tapia, 36, confronted Reichler in Tapia's driveway.
Following a scuffle, Reichler shot Tapia in the abdomen as Tapia's wife called 911 from their front porch and two of his three children watched through the open front door of their home.
The bullet severed Tapia's iliac artery and he died at the hospital from massive internal bleeding, court records show.
Reichler was found guilty of murder by a Porter County jury and sentenced to 62 years in prison.
He argued in his appeal that jurors should have been allowed to consider convicting him of reckless homicide instead of murder.
After reviewing the case evidence, the appellate court concluded that Reichler knew his actions had a high probability of causing Tapia's death and were more than just reckless.
As a result, Porter Superior Judge Mary Harper was correct to omit reckless homicide from the jury instructions as a lesser included offense, the court said.
Now 20, Reichler's earliest possible release date from prison, assuming good behavior, is Sept. 14, 2068, according to the Department of Correction.