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Plea deal offered in Union Township shooting death


A teenage girl who waived adult court in the October 2022 shooting death of an acquaintance in Union Township has entered a plea deal for one count of murder by installments, a Level 5 felony.

Dakota Martinez-Kestle, now 18, of Union Township, was 17 when 18-year-old Andrew Lenahan was shot and killed. Lenahan, who died at the scene, had recently moved to Gary from Savannah, Georgia.

According to court records, the group of teenagers gathered that night were drinking and displaying firearms at the time of the shooting. Martinez-Kestle collapsed in shock following the shooting.

“This case was very difficult for everyone involved,” said Ken Elwood, Martinez-Kestle’s attorney. “If the court accepts the defense, I think justice will be served. Many people made very bad decisions that night, but no amount of punishment could bring the young man back to life. “Any young person involved in this will suffer for the rest of their lives.”

Under the terms of the plea agreement filed Tuesday, Martinez-Kestle will be sentenced to four years in the Department of Corrections and three years of home detention with GPS monitoring, a one-year suspension and formal probation.

Martinez-Kestle will also continue his mental health treatment and take his medications as prescribed, as well as pay undetermined fees and damages.

His trial before Porter Superior Court Judge Mary DeBoer was supposed to begin Monday. DeBoer is scheduled to consider the plea agreement at 9 a.m. May 17.

After spending a year with his family in Savannah, Georgia, Lenahan moved to Gary in July 2022 to work as a union pipefitter and welder.

His mother, Tabitha Lenahan, said she plans to live with a niece and settle in the area because her mother is from Gary and her parents and several family members live in the area.

“Andrew loved fun. He had a wonderful smile. That’s why everyone remembers him. Her blonde, curly hair and her smile that lit up the room,” said Tabitha Lenahan.

According to a probable cause certificateOn October 14, 2022, at approximately 10:15 p.m., the Porter County Sheriff’s Department received a call regarding a male subject with a gunshot wound to the head at a pole barn in the 600 West block of County Road 100 North in Union Township.

The homeowner, who called police during the shooting, said he had invited his friends, including Lenahan, to a small “get together.” A total of seven young people, including Martinez-Kestle, gathered at the owner’s home.

The homeowner told police the group went to a pole barn with a gathering area and bar. Three people at the party, including Lenahan, said: “They all took out their Glock firearms and took them apart. They showed each other firearms and switched slides back and forth, the documents state.

The homeowner told police that the group remained at his home for 20 minutes before abandoning the firearms. Lenahan “returned the magazine to his firearm and placed it on the bar,” documents state.

The homeowner saw Martinez-Kestle retreat from the front of the bar and grab Lenahan’s firearm. “He said nothing as he pulled the slide back and chambered a live round,” the documents state.

“(Martinez-Kestle) stepped in front of Andrew and pointed the firearm at his head and pulled the trigger. The gun went off and hit Andrew, who immediately fell to the ground,” the documents state.

She “became hysterical and fainted from shock,” according to the filing, and while the homeowner tried to help Lenehan and call 911, Martinez-Kestle and a friend fled the property on foot.

Police responded to his father’s home in Crown Point and confirmed Martinez-Kestle was there but refused to speak with police further without a warrant. Shortly after the Porter County SWAT team arrived, Martinez-Kestle, her friend, and the friend’s mother left the house.

Police obtained verbal and written permission to search the property in Union Township following the shooting. In the pole barn on the property, they found a bar with open containers filled with hard liquor, beer and wine.

They also found a Glock 45 and a fired Winchester 9mm Lugar cartridge case in the mast hatch. Police found two more Glocks inside the residence, one of which was tan.

Martinez-Kestle “admitted to pointing a tan firearm at Andrew Lenahan and pulling the trigger. He stated that he was about six feet away from Andrew when he fired, according to court documents.

He was released from the Juvenile Detention Center in late October 2022 and placed in the care of his mother.



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