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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. 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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