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COA upholds convictions of man who planned to kill attorney, judge, ex-wife

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has denied an appeal from a man who was convicted of planning to kill his ex-wife, her attorney, and a judge, ruling that amended charges did not negatively impact his rights and sufficient evidence existed to uphold the conviction.

In Nicholas Suding v. State of Indiana, No. 32A01-1002-CR-156, Nicholas Suding was convicted of three counts of conspiracy to commit murder as Class A felonies. In his appeal, Suding claimed that amendments filed after the omnibus date in October 2009 negatively affected his ability to defend against the amended charges.

At a hearing in June 2009, Suding’s ex-wife, Tamara Scott, and their daughter, S.S., were granted a protective order against Suding. Following that hearing, Suding’s wife, Renee, said he talked about killing Scott, her attorney, and the judge who entered the protective order.

After Suding told his wife to follow the judge and attorney to find out where they lived, she reported her husband to police, who gave her a recording device. She recorded a conversation with Suding in which he described how he would blow up the judge’s house with propane, and how he would kill his other victims. Police then arrested Suding.

Originally charged in July 2009 with one count of conspiracy to commit murder, Suding was charged with five additional counts in September, based on the recorded conversation with Renee Suding.

In December 2009 – past the omnibus date – the state amended the charges by modifying the overt acts, stating Suding “attempted to identify the homes and personal vehicles of the victims and/or agreed on a date to commit the murders and/or traveled to Kentucky to find an appropriate hiding place and to create an alibi.”

In his appeal, Suding argued that charges filed in December 2009 violated his rights by not allowing him adequate time to defend against the charges. But pursuant to Ind. Code Section 35-34-1-5(d), when the court permits an amendment to the charging information, “the court shall, upon motion by the defendant, order any continuance of the proceedings which may be necessary to accord the defendant adequate opportunity to prepare his defense.” If a court overrules a defendant’s objection to a late amendment, a defendant must request a continuance to preserve any argument that he was prejudiced by the late amendment.

Suding’s attorney did not request a continuance, and the issue was waived.

Citing Garcia v. State, 271 Ind. 510, 516, 394 N.E.2d 106, 110 (1979), the appeals court ruled that Renee Suding’s testimony provided sufficient evidence for conviction, because  a unilateral agreement to commit a crime is sufficient to sustain a conviction of conspiracy.

Suding also alleged that he was in grave peril and a victim of prosecutorial misconduct, due to a statement the prosecutor made during the trial about a prior “allegation involving a kid.” The appeals court ruled that the statement in question was inadmissible and did not affect the verdict. The appeals court also ruled that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Suding, who received a sentence of 40 years imprisonment, with five years suspended for each count, to be served concurrently.
 

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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