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Affirmed sentence in home invasion, sex assault clarifies aggravator standards

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An Indianapolis man’s 40-year executed sentence for leading a home invasion and forcing the woman who lived there to perform oral sex at gunpoint wasn’t improper, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

The ruling discarded the convict’s argument that the Marion Superior sentence on convictions of Class A felony criminal deviate conduct and Class B felony robbery improperly referenced the victim’s strength and support system. The appellate panel also found a new standard in which a judge may consider elements of a crime as an aggravator.

“In Pedraza v. State, 887 N.E.2d 77, 80 (Ind. 2008), our supreme court observed that ‘sentencing used to be a two-step process — imposing of the presumptive sentence, then deciding whether any aggravators or mitigators warranted deviation.’ Since the 2005 modification of the sentencing scheme, however, sentencing ‘consists of only one discretionary determination,’” Judge Michael Barnes wrote for the court.  “‘Thus, a sentence toward the high end of the range is no longer an ‘enhanced sentence’ in the sense that the former regime provided.’”

“According to Pedraza, based on the 2005 changes, the consideration of a material element of crime as an aggravator ‘is no longer an inappropriate double enhancement,’” Barnes wrote in Joshua Gomillia v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1301-CR-77.

“Thus, to the extent the trial court considered an element of the offense as an aggravator, it is no longer an improper double enhancement under the new sentencing scheme.”

The court rejected Gomillia’s other argument that the trial court improperly considered facts outside the record in referring to the victim’s strength and support system.

“The trial court was simply making a statement about the resilience of the victim prior to its assessment of the aggravators and mitigators. Any error in the trial court’s consideration of (the victim’s) testimony at a co-defendant’s trial was harmless because it did not impact the trial court’s determination of Gomillia’s sentence,” Barnes wrote.
 
 

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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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