News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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November 17, 2012

Runaway’s crime spree results in 30-year prison sentence

TERRE HAUTE — A runaway teen from Gibault Children’s Services received a 30-year prison sentence Friday for his participation in brutal attacks that left one man crippled for life and a fellow runaway dead in an auto crash.

Jordan Sneed, 18, appeared in Vigo Superior Court 6 where he told Judge Michael Lewis that “I apologize for what I did. I want another chance at life.”

But Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rob Roberts argued that Sneed had been given many chances to change his life, considering that Sneed had been in contact off and on with juvenile justice authorities and facilities since he was 9 years old. Among his juvenile offenses in Lake County were battery, runaway and probation violations. He also lived for a brief time in Texas with his mother, but got in trouble with authorities there as well.

Roberts said that on the night Sneed ran away from Gibault with two other teens, he had been in a fight with another resident of that facility.

Defense attorney Jewell Harris Jr. put some of the blame for Sneed’s actions on the Gibault facility for its lack of security. He said that Gibault “owes” its residents a “secure environment.”

That argument did not sit well with either Roberts or Judge Lewis, who both agreed that Gibault had security problems as evidenced by numerous walk-aways by teens who were found in nearby neighborhoods. But Roberts said the teens were responsible for leaving their assigned placement.

“All of us are upset with Gibault for the things that have happened down there,” Lewis said, “but you three are responsible for your actions.”

On the night of Oct. 24, 2011, Sneed and two other juveniles – Andre Moton and Therlow Pope IV – left Gibault Children’s Services, located on U.S. 41 south of Terre Haute, and embarked on a crime spree that ran from Walmart South to White Castle and ended with the crash of a stolen pickup truck on Third Street (U.S. 41) near College Avenue around 11:14 p.m.

Police reported that Moton was the driver of the truck, while Sneed and Pope were passengers. Because of his injuries, Pope was airlifted to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, where he later died. Sneed was also hospitalized due to his injuries. Moton was apprehended a short time after running from the crash scene.

The crime spree resulted in numerous public complaints about, and scrutiny of, the security measures at Gibault.

Following his arrest, Sneed was charged with murder, robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, a class-A felony; carjacking and attempted carjacking, both class-B felonies; escape, a class-C felony, and battery resulting in bodily injury, a class-A misdemeanor.

On Sept. 26, Sneed entered a guilty plea to robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and attempted carjacking, with a sentencing cap set at 35 years in prison. The other criminal charges were dismissed.

Lewis sentenced Sneed to the advisory term of 30 years on the class-A felony, and a concurrent sentence of 10 years on the class-B felony, with no suspension of prison time.

Following the hearing, the victim of the carjacking said he had hoped Sneed would receive more prison time. The man uses a walker and has permanent injuries from the attack outside White Castle.

“I think it could have been more,” the man said. “It should have been more. I’m hurt for life. There’s no gettin’ over it.”

Criminal charges are still pending against Andre Moton, who has also pleaded guilty to robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and attempted carjacking.

Moton has a Dec. 3 sentencing date. The plea agreement capped the sentence at 35 years.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter@TribStarLisa.

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