MICHIGAN CITY – Chaos erupted inside the Michigan City courthouse on Friday when a teenage girl was convicted of reckless homicide.
After the verdict was read and the jury released, some of the supporters of 19-year-old defendant Jae’vianne Camerial “Precious” Aldridge became agitated.
One shouted, “God got you! Should’ve killed all them m-----f------!”
It resulted in a shouting match between Aldridge’s supporters and the victim's family, which stretched all the way from La Porte Superior Court 1 on the second floor to the parking lot outside.
Aldridge fatally shot 32-year-old Joseph Pryor once in the head on July 25, 2018.
She and her attorney have maintained the shooting was committed in self-defense after a group of people converged on the North Woodland Avenue residence where Aldridge was that evening.
Evidence presented at trial this week showed that in addition to a large man having busted down the door, an air conditioning unit was pushed inside the home and anywhere from 8-12 people were fighting on the small, fenced-in front lawn.
The defense told the jury that Aldridge reasonably feared for her safety, and should be acquitted of the sole murder charge the state had filed against her.
“What was reasonable for her to think as this was happening?” asked defense attorney Gregory Hofer.
But the state contended Aldridge was guilty of murder for retrieving and firing a gun directly at Pryor in a brawl she had orchestrated.
“She invited it,” deputy prosecutor Mark Roule said, referencing messages sent via Facebook Messenger that apparently show Aldridge directing a group of people to her sister’s address to continue a fight that had begun earlier that day at a Michigan City apartment complex.
Roule conceded that Aldridge wasn’t the only person at fault for the fight, but said she was the only one at fault for the shooting.
“Multiple people are responsible for the circumstances, but only one person is responsible for using a gun and only one person is responsible for ending someone’s life,” he said.
Video evidence showed Aldridge fired the weapon three times from atop the front steps of the house.
As a result, Pryor was fatally shot once in the head near his right eyebrow.
Ultimately, the jury decided that Aldridge was not guilty of murder – killing someone knowingly or intentionally – or voluntary manslaughter – killing someone knowingly or intentionally in an act of sudden heat.
But they did determine she had killed someone while behaving recklessly, which is in line with the plea agreement the state offered Aldridge earlier this year that would have called for her to plead guilty to reckless homicide, of which she is now convicted.
A pre-sentence investigation was ordered, and Aldridge is scheduled to return to La Porte Superior Court 1 on Jan. 2 for sentencing.
At that time, Judge Michael Bergerson will hear arguments from both the state and the defense, and determine an appropriate sentence, which will range from 1-6 years in the Indiana Department of Correction.