INDIANAPOLIS — A Michigan City man who blindly fired a gun three times into a crowd of teenagers outside a Sweet 16 birthday party, killing one, received a fair trial, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.
Charles Gerron, 23, is serving a 50-year prison term for murdering Ne’Keisha Hodges, 17, on July 24, 2011, as she and a group of teens were leaving the party held at Krueger Memorial Hall.
Gerron argued in his appeal that prosecutors failed to present sufficient evidence that he knowingly or intentionally killed Hodges.
But the appeals court, in a 3-0 decision, said it is reasonable to conclude that a person who fires a deadly weapon into a crowd intends to commit murder, as there is a high probably someone in the crowd will die.
Moreover, the appeals court noted that evidence in the case showed Gerron was carrying a handgun at the party, he started his moped prior to the shooting "in case something happened," he fled immediately after the shooting telling others that he had fired into the crowd, and Gerron asked for bleach to wash his hands after he learned Hodges had died.
"The state presented sufficient evidence to show that Gerron knowingly killed Hodges. We affirm his conviction for murder, a felony," the court said.
The appellate judges also rejected Gerron's claims that portions of a videotaped interview with police, as well as records showing that Gerron previously had shot himself on accident, should not have been presented to the jury.
They said allowing that evidence at trial was within the discretion of LaPorte Superior Judge Michael Bergerson, and there was no reason to second-guess his decision to admit it.
Hodges' murder went unsolved for five years due in part to parents of juvenile witnesses to the crime refusing to allow their children to speak with police.
Gerron ultimately was arrested in December 2016, one month after Hodges' father, Kalvon Hawkins, launched a social media campaign, passed out fliers and worked with clergy and community members to encourage the now-adult individuals with direct knowledge of the slaying to tell police what they knew.