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Accused molester denied chance to present complete defense

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Finding the testimony and evidence a man accused of child molesting wished to present at trial – but was denied by the trial court – was critical to his defense, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed his two molestation convictions.

Timothy Hyser was accused of molesting his young neighbor J.M. The accusation came to light in December 2011 when police investigated a report of abuse against J.M. by his mother’s boyfriend, Mark Marner.

Hyser contended that the trial court prevented him from presenting testimony and evidence critical to his defense, namely, certain testimony he wished to elicit from Deborah Collins, Melvin Key, and Detective Charles Osterday, and the evidence that Marner was a registered sex offender. Collins and Key both testified that they had observed Marner strike J.M. in 2011. Hyser wanted the evidence Marner was a registered sex offender entered to show Marner knew how the system worked and that J.M. could be taken away from him if a new charge was filed against him.

Hyser’s defense was predicated on the theory that Marner had influenced J.M. to falsely accuse him of child molesting in retaliation for Hyser taking action reporting Marner to the authorities for physically abusing J.M. Hyser argued the testimony he wanted to elicit was not inadmissible hearsay, as the trial court had ruled.

“The testimony and evidence Hyser wished to elicit and present was exculpatory, unique, and critical to his defense. The trial court did not permit Hyser to present his defense that the allegations and testimony against him were untrue and fabricated in retaliation or response to the fact that he had made a report to DCS that he believed Marner was physically abusive toward J.M.,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote in Timothy L. Hyser v. State of Indiana, 20A05-1301-CR-37. “Hyser had the right, as a fundamental element of due process of law, to present his own witnesses to establish a defense and to present his version of the facts.”

Brown noted in reversing the molestation convictions that the state is not barred from retrying Hyser.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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