The Porter man
convicted of murder in the death of the man he shot in front of his wife and
children in December 2014, after being discovered rifling the man’s car in
Portage, has been sentenced to 62 years in prison.
19, was found guilty by a jury in August of murdering Alex Tapia, 36, after
Tapia had interrupted Reichler while he was going through a vehicle parked
at Tapia’s residence. Reichler was also found guilty of two counts of theft
and one count of attempted theft.
Reichler to 62 years, Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper cited his
lengthy criminal history which started with an arrest at age 11 for arson
Reichler told the
court, before being sentenced, “I wish I could take it back, but I can’t.”
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 Tapia, armed with a handgun,
surprised the three. Sipe and Izynski fled but Reichler, still inside
Tapia’s vehicle, was caught off-guard, police said.
Tapia “was able to
gain control” of Reichler and was attempting to lead him to the front porch
of the house pending the arrival of police officers, when Reichler, armed
himself, fired one round at Tapia’s head, missing him, then a second into
Tapia’s 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 that gun to Reichler for a different one which Reichler had stolen
only two hours before the shooting, from a vehicle parked in the 100 block
of Taylor Street, 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 had the
option of finding Reichler guilty of manslaughter but opted instead for
punishable by a term of 45 to 65 years, with an advisory sentence of 55.
Harper sentenced Reichler to nearly the maximum possible, 62, with sentences
for the three other guilty counts to run concurrently. Under Indiana Code,
Reichler will be required to serve at least three-quarters of the 62 years:
that is, to 46 years, six months, at which time Reichler will be nearly 67
Sipe, for his part,
has pleaded guilty to attempted theft, in exchange for which he would be
sentenced to one year in jail with all but time served--five actual
days--suspended and the balance served on probation. Two other criminal
charges against him would be dismissed: aiding a criminal and theft.
who police said actually stole the murder weapon--pleaded guilty last year
to two counts of theft and was sentenced to time served in jail. In November
2015 Izynski was charged with burglary, in an unconnected case. That charge
is still pending.