Mentally ill man gets 52 years for Merrillville shooting death
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent April 1, 2013 4:32PM
Updated: May 3, 2013 6:23AM
Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Ross Boswell sentenced a Merrillville man to 52 years in prison after a jury found him guilty but mentally ill of murder and battery in a 2010 shooting.
Defense attorney Scott King made an impassioned plea that Boswell impose the minimum sentence because of Jamal Ahmad Gore’s severe mental illness. He noted Gore has no prior felony convictions and argued that mentally ill prisoners are merely warehoused, not treated, while they are incarcerated.
Gore, 32, was convicted Nov. 7 after about two hours of deliberation in the May 24, 2010, shooting that killed John Davis Jr., 29, and wounded his girlfriend, Melissa Maida, while they drove in the 1500 block of Chase Street. Gore fired a semi-automatic pistol five times, striking his long-time friend from high school in the back of the head and continued to fire after Davis has slumped over in the seat.
Deputy prosecutor Michael Woods argued for a 60-year sentence. “This defendant ignored opportunity after opportunity after opportunity and helping hand after helping hand after helping hand,” Woods said. Gore’s pattern was to quit taking his medication because it made him feel tired, dull or caused weight gain. Woods said Gore will receive his medication while he’s in prison.
In a victim-impact statement, John Davis Jr., said his family was still deeply troubled by the murder. “Since the day this man, this coward, killed my son, I haven’t worked,” Davis said, adding that he walked away from a $100,000 a year job and eventually retired. “We’re trying to have closure and justice.”
Gore’s mother, Dana Gore, said her son had been hospitalized about 20 times for his mental illness and had began acting strangely around Mother’s Day after being released from the hospital about one month earlier. She attempted to get an emergency committal before the murder. “I am truly, truly sorry for what my son has done,” Gore said.
Jamal Gore, who plans to appeal his conviction, said: “I feel bad for what I did. He was a good friend of mine. I had no intentions of hurting him.”
Boswell said evidence at the 10-day trial showed Gore’s mental illness surfaced when he was a teen. “The system failed him this time,” she said, despite his mother’s best efforts to get help for her son.