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8-year sentence upheld for teen who killed friend while street racing

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A Madison County man who crashed his car while street racing, which killed one passenger and injured two others, could not convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that the trial court erred in declining to give a lesser-included instruction of reckless driving at his trial for reckless homicide.

In Paul J. Coy v. State of Indiana, 48A02-1301-CR-65, 19-year-old Paul Coy picked up 17-year-old Darian Hurn and two female teens from school early. The group met up with Mike Ducheteau and his friends. Hurn asked if Ducheteau wanted to race. While racing on the rural two-lane road, Coy’s car got up to 106 mph. He lost control and crashed, severely injuring Hurn and the teen girls. Hurn died the next day from his injuries.

Coy was charged with and convicted of Class C felony reckless homicide and two counts of Class C felony criminal recklessness. As a condition of being released on bond, he signed a protective order promising not to have any contact with anyone in the car. Despite this, he continued to communicate with A.K., one of the teen girls, who was his girlfriend.

He requested an instruction for reckless driving be provided as a lesser-included offense of reckless homicide; the court refused. He was sentenced to eight years on the homicide charge and three years each for the criminal recklessness charges, to be served concurrently.

Coy asserted the following: that the trial court erred in refusing to allow the lesser-included offense of reckless driving to be argued and included in the jury instructions; that the state presented a fatal variation between the charging information and the proof at trial; that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing the maximum sentence for reckless homicide; and that his sentence is inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and his character.

The Court of Appeals found Coy waived the issue of the lesser-included offense instruction, but waiver notwithstanding, because there was no serious evidentiary dispute over the elements that distinguish the crime charged from the lesser-included offense, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in failing to give an instruction for Class B misdemeanor reckless driving.

The judges also found there was not a fatal variation in the charging information and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by considering aggravators and failing to consider or give proper weight to mitigators. Coy’s eight-year sentence is appropriate in light of the nature of the offenses and his character, the judges concluded. He only had one previous speeding ticket, but through his actions, has shown a disregard for the law, including speaking with A.K. after being ordered not to.

 

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  1. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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