The Journal Gazette
Friday, March 20, 2020 1:00 am

Shooter gets 50 years, clears other accused

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

Jermaine Turner was ordered Thursday to spend 50 years in prison for shooting a man to death in October.

But he first tried to exonerate another man charged in the killing. 

“It was basically, wrong place, wrong time,” Turner said, referring to Anthony M. Mitchell, 19. 

Turner, 40, had been charged with murder, attempted robbery, cocaine possession and felony murder – one committed in the act of another felony. He pleaded guilty in February to the murder charge and was sentenced Thursday in Allen Superior Court to 50 years behind bars. 

The other charges were dismissed, and a judge ordered him to spend five years on probation after serving the sentence. 

Pablo Guzman Vasquez, 40, was killed Oct. 13 outside a home on Runnion Avenue, west of downtown. Turner and Mitchell were together at the time, according to court documents, but Turner admitted firing the fatal shots. 

Robert Gevers, Mitchell's attorney, said in a hearing March 6 that Turner made phone calls after the guilty plea that would clear his client, and court filings say the calls “may be exculpatory in nature for Mr. Mitchell.” 

Documents do not include details about the information or who discussed it with Turner. 

In court, Turner said he committed the crime and Mitchell – facing charges of murder, felony murder and robbery – “had nothing to do with it.”

Mitchell's trial had been scheduled March 10, but Judge Fran Gull agreed to postpone it until Aug. 18 after learning of the phone calls. 

A witness told police after the shooting another person wanted to rob a homeowner in the area of “drugs, money and electronics,” according to a probable cause affidavit. The homeowner, who is not named in court documents, had struck a woman identified in the affidavit as Witness 6, and the woman reportedly planned the robbery.

Investigators said Witness 6 picked up a young man – Mitchell – and Turner, who had a gun, and drove to an apartment. The woman drove away after hearing gunshots and picked up Turner and Mitchell nearby, the affidavit said. 

“(She) stated to detectives that she heard the younger male say to (Turner), 'You were right, you were the first one to get shots off with that gun,' referring to the fact that (Turner) shot somebody with a gun,'” Fort Wayne police Detective Dan Hutson wrote in charging documents. 

Turner's guilty plea might have spared him a de facto life sentence because in Indiana, murder is punishable by up to 65 years in prison. State sentencing guidelines require those convicted of serious felonies to serve at least 75% of their sentences, meaning he could have faced nearly 49 years behind bars if he was convicted only of the murder charge. The 50-year sentence means Turner will spend at least 371/2 years behind prison walls.

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