Edward D. Gingerich: The Only Amish Man Convicted of Murder
Don Lewis was first to present closing arguments. Facing the jury, defense attorney Lewis began, One who has been responsible all his life doesnt do something like this. The prosecutors say that Ed Gingerich knew what he was doing when he killed his wife, Katie. They ask you to believe that this Amish man had killed his wife because she told him he couldnt go to a wedding. There is one issue in this case: What was the defendants mental condition at the time of Katie Gingerichs Death? What was in his mind? What was his intent? In closing, Lewis pointed out the lack of professional testimony by the prosecution and the apparent weakness of the case they presented.
If I said something you didnt like, prosecuting attorney Douglas Ferguson began, please hold it against me, not the witnesses. Ferguson told the jury that while Ed may have been mentally ill at the time of his wifes death, insanity is something totally different. He then concluded with, Katie Gingerichs death was no accident; it was murder.
Following closing arguments, the judge explained the differences between degrees of murder and explained the legal definition of insanity. The jury was then released for deliberations.
The jury deliberated for hours before informing the court they had reached a decision. The judge asked the jury if they had reached a verdict. We have, Your Honor, the jury foreman replied as he handed over the verdict slip. The judge read the slip and handed it back over to the jury foreman. Ed was then asked to rise and face the jury.
In the case of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania versus Edward D. Gingerich on the charge of criminal homicide, how do you find? the judge asked the jury.
We find the defendant, Edward D. Gingerich, guilty of involuntary manslaughter but mentally ill, the foreman stated to the court.
After the verdict was read, the judge set the sentencing for May 2, 1994, and adjourned the court.
Outside the courthouse, a reporter asked Don Lewis how he felt about the verdict. He replied, Except for my ego, this is the best possible verdictit hit me like no other verdict Ive ever hadEd doesnt understand our justice system. He is relieved the trial is over. It was stressful for him.
To the Amish community, Eds verdict was an insult. Unbeknown to Ed and his defense team, Bishop Rudy Shetler immediately drafted a petition that read:
About Ed Gingerich We like Ed Gingerich, but absolutely dont trust him and are seriously <sic> afraid of him because of what he did. We want him to stay in Warren County mental ward, (for good).
Sixty signatures ended up on the petition, including that of Eds own father.
The sentencing hearing for Edward Gingerich was held on May 2, 1994. Following the presentation of a psychiatric evaluation, the prosecution shocked everyone present by handing Bishop Shetlers petition to the judge. The defense had presumed the hearing would be routine and were not prepared for Eds own people to take a strong stance against him.
Upon reviewing the information presented to him, and listening to statements from both sides, the judge asked Ed if he had anything to say on his behalf. Ed stood up and said, All I can say is, Im sorry to all the community that this has happened. He then returned to his seat.
Following Eds brief statement to the court, he was sentenced to a minimum term of two and one-half years and a maximum of five years with credit for time served since his May 19, 1993 incarceration. Hence, Ed would be eligible for parole by late 1995. While the defense team was upset with the verdict, they also knew that it could have been much worse.
A week after Eds sentencing, on May 9, 1994, Katies father got up from dinner, told everyone that he wished he could see his daughter, and went to bed. He never woke up. A few days later, he was buried next to Katie.
In November of 1994, Ed claimed to have a visit from God, and was granted forgiveness for his crimes. Ed wrote about his experience soon after it occurred. "It makes me feel like singing and to shoot (sic) for joy," he wrote. "I do not shout because of my surroundings, but I do sing something I have not felt like or done in the last perilous few years."
Edward Gingerich was denied his first bid for parole in Dec. 1995, however on March 19, 1998, at the age of 34, and having served his full sentence, he was released from the State Correctional Institution in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania.
Not welcome back in Brownhill, Ed moved to Harmony Haven, in Evart, Mich., a community for troubled Amish. He remains there as of this writing and works in a local machine shop. Eds parents continue to care for his children.
While many have claimed that Ed is not a threat as long as he takes his medication, he has already succeeded in scaring members of his new community. It has been reported by those close to him that he has had several relapses since his release and has displayed his old personality on those occasions.
Only time will tell if Edward Gingerich will ultimately win the battle within him, or revert back to murderous madness.