Elkhart 4 life after lockup: Blake Layman one year later
When Blake Layman was 16-years-old, he and three others were convicted of felony murder even though none of them pulled the trigger. Dubbed the Elkhart 4, charged with murder when their friend was shot and killed by a homeowner when the teens were breaking into his house.
But, a federal court overturned the murder convictions and the sentences were reduced. Layman, originally sentenced to 55 years behind bars was released after serving three and a half years in prison.
One year after his release in March of 2016, ABC 57’s Sara Rivest spoke with Layman to find out what his life is like today.
Layman lives in Elkhart with his fiancé Katherine Huskey. Six weeks ago, they welcomed baby Hadlee.
“I hope I can give her everything. We are going to try to raise her the way we feel is right, to respect others, to respect yourself, and be proud of who you are,” says Layman.
Layman says he’s a different person than who he was at 16-years-old.
“I wasted years of my life getting high and doing things like that. On the path I was on, I think prison was inevitable. That’s why I am thankful because I needed a wake-up call,” says Layman.
While serving time at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, Layman fell in love with learning and earned his GED.
Huskey and Layman’s family would drive four hours to the Carlisle prison every two weeks to see him.
“He had more visits in prison than probably anybody ever did. We were not going to give up. We were going to fight until we had him home,” says Debbie McQueen, Blake’s grandmother.
On Tuesday, Layman will celebrate one year at his current job. He works full time at a manufacturer in Middlebury.
“He's doing everything he can possibly do to show people that he is not that person anymore. He has grown up, he's doing what he is supposed to do,” says McQueen.
“Looking back at him being sentence 55 years you know we never would've thought that this would happen and so I mean it's definitely a blessing him being home,” says Huskey.
Layman says he’s extremely dedicated to his family and their future.
“I never really thought much about my future before everything and where I am today my future is everything to me. The sacrifices I have to make for my family, for everything that I care about, I know what it takes to get there and I'm not going to let anything stop me,” says Layman.
Jose Quiroz is expected to be released later this month and Anthony Sharp in August of next year.
Levi Sparks was released early last year. Last month, we sat down with him for an update. Click here for Sparks’ story.