New Indiana bill could have 14 year old violent offenders tried as adults

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File photo of the Statehouse.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan 9, 2015) – State lawmakers are proposing bills they hope will drastically reduce crime in Indianapolis.

Some of the legislation proposed include trying 14 year olds as adults, stiffer penalties for drug dealers, and a 20 year minimum sentence for violent crimes committed with a gun. It comes after what was one of the most violent years Indy has ever seen.

Nathan Trapuzzano, police say, was shot in the stomach by a 16-year-old Simeon Adams.  The 24-year-old newlywed and soon-to-be father was killed in cold blood, one of many murders that gripped Indy in 2014.

You may be just 14 years old, but we need to get tough on juvenile crime and this does that,” said State Senator, Jim Merritt (R – Marion Co.).

Merritt is proposing an arsenal of anti-crime legislation.  Among his proposals a bill that says at 14 years old, if you commit a violent crime with a gun, or you are carrying a gun without a license, you’re immediately tried as an adult.

“I definitely think that we’re hugging it out.  It just is not the right approach. This puts the message to all kids who might have a gun, that is not the right thing to do and that is considered a crime if you even have a gun and you will go to adult court,” he said.

“You will have to serve time, so my bill suggests that it will be 20 years,” said Rep. Cindy Kirchoffer (R – Marion Co.).

Where Merritt’s proposal gets adolescent offenders in adult court, Rep Cindy Kirchhoffer’s bill locks them up.  She’s proposing a separate bill that would act as an aid to Merritt’s proposal, setting the minimum sentence for a violent gun offense, at 20 years.

“At a minimum, let’s persuade someone to think about spending mandatory time in prison before the commit a crime with a firearm,” she said.

“There is a lack of sanctity for human life and I think there has to be consequences for the young people who use these handguns, assault weapons in violent crimes,” said Reverend Charles Harrison, founder of the Indy Ten Point Coalition.

Support for these proposals isn’t only in the statehouse.  Harrison hopes there will be a direct link to these bills and a reduction of violent crime.

“I do think it would send a message to them that if you commit this crime then you’re going to serve a minimum of 20 years,” he said.

Additionally, Merritt is looking at making it much more difficult for violent offenders to bond out of jail.  He’s also proposed a bill that would tighten penalties for drug dealers.  No time table yet on when these bills may be heard on the floor of the general assembly.

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