An Indiana teen who appealed his case all the way to the Indiana Supreme Court walks out of prison on Thursday. Eyewitness News has been following his story and was there as he was greeted by friends and family.
No more prison jump suit, handcuffs or supervised visits. That’s been Blake Layman’s lifestyle since 16. Thanks to the Indiana Supreme Court, he has a chance to start over.
“I always had that faith that hope we’d be here and we’re here it took 3 1/2 years, but justice was served, but we did it was a long fight,” said Layman’s mother Angie Johnson.
“I’ve matured a lot, grown to find out who I am and who want to be in this world, what I want to accomplish. I know with this team behind me I could get anything done,” said Blake Layman.
In 2012, Layman broke into a home in Elkhart, Indiana with four other teens. The homeowner shot and killed one of them, resulting in Layman being convicted of felony murder. He was sentenced to 55 years in prison, one of the strictest ever under those circumstances. The Indiana Supreme Court ruled it too harsh, instructing he be re-sentenced instead for burglary. It was reduced to ten years, whittled down with good behavior and time served.
“It really brought back some trust in the system. How often have you come to visit? I haven’t he didn’t want it. I expressed I wanted to he just said he couldn’t,” says Layman’s father Bruce Layman.
A tough reunion for Bruce Layman, who hasn’t seen his son since being locked up serves as a reminder of where he himself used to spend time. There were lots of reunions outside prison gates.
A production company captured it all for a documentary focusing on youth incarceration. Their work is a huge money maker for the Indiana Department of Corrections, which charges $5,000 a day. That was the focus of our report when we met Layman in 2014. The prison system has made $227,000 just in the last two years. These projects show what really goes on beyond the barbed wire.
“He’s about to live a life now, he’s got his whole life back there was a chance he was going to miss his whole life so, I pray for him go to school make a family, do what anything he wants in life now, he’s got opportunities a lot of people don’t get,” said Angie Johnson.
“Things are different, starting a job. I’ve got to live life as an adult, I’m no longer a child, gotta live that way,” said Blake Layman.
So this four-year fight comes to an end, quite possibly setting Indiana precedent. Blake Layman will be on parole for two years and hopes he never walks through these gates ever again.
Wabash Valley Correctional Center no longer takes juvenile inmates. They’ve been phased out since Layman’s arrival. He has a job lined up to start Monday and expects to soon marry his high school girlfriend.
One of the other Elkhart Four already got out, the other two are set to soon.