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Teen waived to adult court for murder

Mary Mattingly

A teenager is now facing up to 65 years in prison for the murder of a Milan woman, Nancy Hershman. Ripley County Circuit Court Judge Carl Taul waived the teenager, Daniel A. Hodge, who was 15 at the time of the crime, into adult court after a request from the state. Hodge was one day from his 16th birthday when the alleged crime occured. Had he been 16, there would have been a mandatory waiver to adult court. If the judge ruled the case to be tried in juvenile court, Hodge would be facing juvenile detention until age 21 instead of 45 to 65 years in prison.

In March, the judge ruled to waive another juvenile in the case, Sean Nichols, 15, to adult court. Allison Moore, 22, has also been implicated in the crime, and is also facing the felony murder charge. She is believed to have shot the 40-caliber gun after a struggle with Hershman while Nichols and Hodge were trying to remove a television.

Hodge is the suspect with Ripley County connections who apparently had the idea to come to Milan to steal drugs, cash and valuables from homes he was familiar with. The group also allegedly burglarized a vehicle and residence.

According to the court documents, the judge made his ruling, filed Nov. 1, based on a number of factors brought up during the day-long hearing last month, and that Hodge and the community would be best served if moved to adult court. Factors mentioned included Hodge’s “non-conformity” with authority and the juvenile justice system, and his aggressive behavior. His criminal actions that Dec. 30, 2012 evening, his past substance abuse, and history of expulsions and behavior problems at every school he has attended, also led to the ruling.

Hodge also had trouble with authority at the Dearborn County Juvenile Center and Cedarbridge Juvenile Center in Muncie, where he continually had rule violations, many of serious nature. At one point he stabbed a captain with a pen, broke the fingers of a staff member while trying to escape, and made many threats to the staff. Testimony revealed that Hodge was one of the worst student inmates to have ever been at the facility and the only one to be transferred to another facility due to his uncontrollable behavior.
However, two psychologists recommended it would be best for Hodge to stay in the juvenile system because of the better possibility for rehabilitation. Indiana State Police Detective Tracy Rolfing, probation officer Amanda Kitts and Captain Jason Emmons at Cedarbridge testified it would be better for society if Hodge was waived to adult court, because of his disdain for authority and because the juvenile system doesn’t have much more to offer him.

Hodge was also charged with burglary, and conspiracy to commit burglary, both felonies.

Prosecutor Ric Hertel said Hodge and Nichols trials will be separate. Nichols is scheduled for January, and Allison Moore’s is March 31. Nichols’ attorney asked for a change of venue from Ripley County, but it was denied. No date has been given for Hodges trial, but should be given at the initial hearing. The trials are expected to be held in Ripley Circuit Court.



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