Appeals court reduces teen’s murder sentence

The Indiana Court of Appeals has reduced the sentence of a teenager who was just 13 when he shot and killed a man. The teen’s sentence was reduced because of his age at the time of the crime, according to court records.

In September 2018, 13-year-old Alphonso James arranged to meet 18-year-old Jaren Minies to trade a gun for an X-Box plus $40.

While in a vehicle making the trade, James, who was armed, grabbed Minies’ gun, then fired nine shots at Minies from both guns.

Minies was taken to the hospital where he was dead on arrival.

James evaded police and traveled to New York where he allegedly committed violent offenses.

In January 2021, James was sentenced to 63 years in prison for Minies’ murder, just two years below the sentencing maximum.

The sentencing guidelines are between 45 and 65 years with 55 being the advisory sentence for a defendant under the age of 16.

James appealed his sentence alleging the trial court improperly rejected sentencing him as a juvenile, abused its discretion when considering aggravating circumstances and that the length of his sentence was inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and the character of the offender.

The appeals court rejected the first two arguments but agreed the sentence was inappropriate due to James’ age at the time of the murder, the fact his father was murdered when he was 4 and did not have a stable home life.

The court found James’ age should have been taken into account during sentencing and ordered the trial court to re-sentence James to the advisory sentence of 55 years.

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