Plea deal proffered in Union Township shooting death

A teen girl waived to adult court in the October 2022 shooting death of an acquaintance in Union Township has submitted a plea agreement for one count of reckless homicide, a Level 5 felony.

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

The group of teens who gathered that night had been drinking and were showing off their firearms at the time of the shooting, according to court records. Martinez-Kestle passed out in shock after the shooting.

“This case was very difficult for all involved,” said Ken Elwood, Martinez-Kestle’s attorney. “If the court accepts the plea, then in my opinion justice was served. Multiple people that night made very poor decisions, but no sentence will bring the young man back to life. Every young person involved with this will suffer from this the rest of their lives.”

Under the terms of the plea agreement filed Tuesday, Martinez-Kestle would be sentenced to four years in the Department of Correction to be served as three years on home detention with GPS monitoring and one year suspended and served on formal probation.

Martinez-Kestle also is to continue mental health therapy and take her medications as prescribed, as well as pay fees and restitution that have yet to be determined.

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

Lenahan moved to Gary in July 2022 for a job as a union pipe fitter and a welder after spending a year with his family in Savannah, Georgia.

He had plans, his mom, Tabitha Lenahan, has said, to live with a nephew and settle in the area since his mom is from Gary, and her parents and several family members live in this area.

“Andrew was just very fun-loving. He had a great smile. That’s what everyone remembers him for. His blond, curly hair and a smile that lit up a room,” Tabitha Lenahan has said.

According to a probable cause document, around 10:15 p.m. on Oct. 14, 2022, the Porter County Sheriff’s Department got a call about a male subject with a gunshot wound to the head in a pole barn in the 600 West block of County Road 100 North in Union Township.

The homeowner, who called police at the time of the shooting, said he invited his friends, including Lenahan, over for a small “get-together.” In all, seven young people gathered at the homeowner’s place, including Martinez-Kestle.

The homeowner told police that the group went into a pole barn with a gathering area and a bar. Three of the people at the party, including Lenahan, “all took out their Glock firearms and dismantled them. They were showing each other the firearms and swapping slides back and forth,” documents state.

The group, the homeowner told police, was at his residence for 20 minutes before putting the firearms down. Lenahan “placed his magazine back into his firearm and placed it on the bar top,” documents state.

The homeowner observed Martinez-Kestle step back around the front side of the bar and pick up Lenahan’s firearm. “She did not say anything as she pulled the slide back and chambered a live round,” documents state.

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

She “became hysterical and passed out from the shock,” according to the filing, and while the homeowner was trying to provide aid to Lenehan and call 911, Martinez-Kestle and a friend fled the property on foot.

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

Police received verbal and written consent to search the property in Union Township after the shooting took place. In the pole barn on the property, they found a bar with open containers of hard liquor, beer and wine.

They also located a Glock 45 in the pole barn and a fired Winchester 9 mm Lugar cartridge case. Police located two additional Glocks inside the residence, including a tan one.

Martinez-Kestle “admitted to pointing a tan-colored firearm at Andrew Lenahan and pulling the trigger. (She) stated that she was about five feet away from Andrew when she fired the shot,” according to the court documents.

She was released from the Juvenile Detention Center in late October 2022 and to the custody of her mother.