A Porter man has
been convicted of murder in the death of the man he shot in December 2014
after being discovered rifling through the man’s car in Portage.
19, with a listed address on Strongbow Trail, was found guilty late Thursday
night by a jury following a four-day trial.
Reichler was also
found guilty of two counts of theft and one of attempted theft.
police, in the early morning hours of Dec. 12, 2014, Reichler and two other
Dunelanders, Nathaniel Todd Sipe, now 21, of Jackson Township, and Korey
Brandon Izynski, now 20, of Chesterton, were looking for unlocked vehicles
in the 6000 block of Mill Run Ave. when Alex Tapia, 36, armed with a
handgun, surprised the three. Sipe and Izynski fled but Reichler, still
inside Tapia’s vehicle, was caught off-guard
Tapia, armed with a
handgun, “was able to gain control” of Reichler and attempted to lead him to
the front porch of the house pending the arrival of police officers. But
Reichler, armed himself, fired one round at Tapia’s head, missing him, then
a second into his torso, police said.
wounded, returned fire, hitting Reichler above his left wrist and in his
right arm but not incapacitating him. After dropping his weapon at the
scene, Reichler fled down the street to where Sipe had parked his vehicle
and together the two waited as EMS treated Tapia, police said. Then Sipe
drove Reichler to a hospital in Michigan City for medical treatment.
subsequently discovered, after recovering the handgun used by Reichler, that
it had been stolen three days earlier by Izynski from an unlocked vehicle in
the 600 block of North Calumet Road in Chesterton. Izynski, however, had
traded the Ruger to Reichler for a FN Herstal semi-automatic pistol which
Reichler had stolen only two hours before the shooting, from a vehicle
parked in the 100 block of Taylor Street in Chesterton, police said.
The key issue of
the trial turned on Reichler’s intent: did he knowingly, intentionally fire
the shot for the purpose of killing Tapia?
attorney, Larry Rogers, argued that events transpired too quickly for intent
to form in Reichler’s mind, that Reichler was fearful of being harmed by
Tapia, and that his only thought was to defend himself.
that Reichler’s having armed himself in the first place, in the attempted
commission of a theft, then firing the initial round at Tapia’s head, fully
proved his intent.
The jury did have
the option of finding Reichler guilty instead of a lesser offense,
Prosecuting Attorney Brian Gensel released the following statement this
morning to the Chesterton Tribune: “We believe the jury made the
right decision in finding the defendant guilty of murder, holding him
accountable for the consequences of his actions. It was a senseless,
cowardly act that deprived Krystal Tapia of a husband and his four children
of a father. We extend our condolences to the Tapia family and gratitude to
the Portage Police Department for their hard work in the investigation.”
punishable by a term of 45 to 65 years, with an advisory term of 55 years.
Reichler will be required under Indiana Code to serve at least
three-quarters of his sentence, at least 41.25 years, that is, if sentenced
to the advisory term.
Sipe, for his part,
has been charged with attempted theft, theft, and assisting a criminal.
Those charges are pending. Sipe did testify against Reichler at trial this
who police say actually stole the murder weapon--pleaded guilty last year to
two counts of theft and was sentenced to time served in jail awaiting
disposition. In November 2015 Izynski was charged with burglary, in an
unconnected case. That charge is pending.