Sign up for the Dr. Phil Newsletter
Twitter Facebook YouTube

2014 Shows

In October 2012, 21-year-old Danzele Johnson was shot and killed by an Elkhart, Indiana homeowner while he and three friends broke into a home and another served as a lookout. Although they didn’t pull the trigger, Danzele’s friends, 16-year-olds Blake Layman and Jose Quiroz, 17-year-old Levi Sparks and 18-year-old Anthony Sharp -- now known as the “Elkhart 4” -- were charged with his murder and sentenced to 45 to 55 years in prison. Dr. Phil delves into Indiana’s felony murder law, which provides that if a killing occurs during the commission of a felony, the persons responsible for the felony can be charged with murder. The boys’ mothers are outraged and say their sons should not have to pay the price for a crime they did not commit -- and many in the community agree. Speaking out for the first time, Blake, Levi and Anthony talk to Dr. Phil via satellite from behind bars. Hear firsthand what they say happened on that fateful day. And, hear from a juror on the case -- does he feel the verdict was fair? Plus, CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin weighs in. Should the felony murder law apply to adolescents? Tune in and decide for yourself: Should these teens have been charged with a lesser offense?

Find out what happened on the show.
Replied By: dalgal27 on Mar 6, 2015, 12:14PM
Boys should be sentenced for burglery, not murder.
Replied By: dalgal27 on Mar 6, 2015, 12:04PM
I remember watching this Dr. Phil episode and last night MTV's show One Bad Choice covered it again. I believe that these young men should have been punished as burglers, not murderers. It is sad that Mr. Johnson was killed, he paid the ultimate price for his one bad choice. I see both sides of this story. I, like the home owner in this story have health issues and stay home in bed alot. And if a teenager that I didn't know knocked on my door during the day I probably would not answer the door. This might lead the teen to believe he could come on in and rob the place, that nobody is home. And I do own a gun, and I would definately reach for it if I heard some one in my house. I might shoot..... But I would not hold the other teens or myself responsible for murder. A few years back in the middle of the night my husband woke me up telling me someone was trying to break into our car in the driveway. I looked on our security camera and saw it was a teen about my own son's age. My husband went for our gun and wanted to go outside and shoot him. We live in Texas and it would have been perfectly legal for him to do so. I immediately thought of my own son and would I want someone to SHOOT him for making a dumb mistake. NOOOO!!!! About that time the teen decided he could not enter our car and walked away. The police came and took him away. These teens do deserve to be punished. Twenty years maybe and paroled after ten. At most. They don't deserve to have their lives totally taken from them.

Replied By: obitwo on Jan 29, 2015, 2:56PM - In reply to megookin
If you have children (not likely)... let´s hope they never do any "crime"... and then a friend get shot and they sentenced to jail...

WHAT was the other kids crime more than burglery?

Who shot who?

Who did the kids, now in jail, SHOOT by your opinion?

Replied By: obitwo on Jan 29, 2015, 1:28PM
I´m so happy that I and my kids don´t live in US...

Just makes me SAD that the person who actually fired the gun gets young persons sent to jail for lifetime... WHERE is the LOGICAL thinking???????????

Would it be OK for you if 5 young kids gets in to my garden and tries to steel my bicykle and I shoot one of them.... just because I like to shoot persons.... and the other 4 gets lifetime in jail?


Just so SAD to see the program... You have things to overcome....
Replied By: obitwo on Jan 29, 2015, 1:13PM
that me and my family live in Europe.

In Sweden there is a law that says that IF theese young burglers would have killed the owner of the house they could all be judged for murder.....

ABSOLUTELY NOT if the OWNER shot one of THEM and the rest is judged for MURDER.... Ha ha haaa It´s such BIG JOKE!

A very tragic "joke" regarding the young boys and therefore I´m glad I don´t live in US.

Let´s say that your son and some friends wants to steal my bicykle in my garden and I shoot one of them... The other two will get lifetime jail for MURDER? 

The persons that think this is OK are really sick...


Replied By: velmagwink on Jan 17, 2015, 11:32PM - In reply to elkhartdad
if that happened.... I would hope to try and find the copasity for empathy on both sides of the isle.... and not just the one that benifits the vengful side of me that we all have.
Replied By: velmagwink on Jan 17, 2015, 11:29PM - In reply to cupid2011
I understand what your saying and not once did I think these boys shouldnt be held accountable for their action. I just thing you are looking at it black and white when we live in the world of grey. I dont think they are trying to pass it off as no big deal.

the parents and the kids get how big of a deal it is better then any of us ever could, trust me.... things get really real when your sitting in a jail cell all day or your waiting for your kid to get outta one. I head all of them own it. .. and maybe there is no good way to try and say what they where saying.... in such a case it is up to the viewer to do our best to empathise with them. Its not always easy but what seperates us from the real bad people is our ability to do so. Maybe you could try that?

My main point was... they shouldnt be throw away kids. There should be no such thing as a throw away kid. Imagine all the world loses out on if we just throw people away all the time. Especially those who have years to learn to contribute in a possitive way in this world like these children.

Plus their copassity for predicting the outcome has to be taken into consideration. Biologically we understand our development better then we ever have. Whcih is why we put forth laws like stachatory rape. You have to be a spacific age age to concent beecaus we understand that with out that machurity you have a big handycap when it comes to reasoning. Why is that any difference then these boys ability to reason?
Replied By: megookin on Jan 3, 2015, 10:59AM
At the age of 16 and above, all five of these delinquents knew that they were going to commit a crime.  They are responsible for everything that happened from the time they initiated the crime.  Therefore, they are all responsible for the death of their co-conspirator.  Had they chosen not to commit the crime they never would have been in that house.  Had they chosen not to commit the crime, the homeowner would not had anyone to shoot inside his home.  Everything that happened that day was the result of the actions they consciously decided to take and therefore they are guilty of the crimes.  Since the crime ended with a death and they knew what they were doing was criminal they needed to be tried as adults.

We are all responsible for our actions and the only culpability outside the five who committed the crime would be with the parents who failed to raise their children to respect the law and teach them that there are consequences when you break the law. 
Replied By: nilayhaylaz on Oct 6, 2014, 9:15PM
Those young boys punished in the worst way possible for 1 stupid decision. No chance to learn from their mistake. Yes, they should not have broken into a house. But they're boys. 50+ years is insane. Its practically a death sentence. I feel for these boys and their families. I wish them all the best from Australia.
Replied By: rotterdam on Aug 12, 2014, 3:34AM - In reply to goldenbeach
Saw this episode on Dutch television today and I am shocked. When this should happen in Holland, the boys should have been punished for what they did and the owner of the house punished for having a gun and using it in these circumstances. It doesn't sound  to me that he couldn't do anything else but shoot. That is why it is a excellent thing not allowing people to have fireguns in their homes. Too many accidents like these in the US! There was a very, very tiny risk that the owner should have been killed. He could have locked  himself up in the closet with his cell phone and call 911.

These boys were no experienced bad guys for sure. I wish the US will evaluate this again and give these kids a second chance.
Showing 1-10 of total 782 Comments