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Appeals panel voids gun conviction, cuts child porn sentence

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An Indianapolis man sentenced to 11 years in prison for possession of child pornography and a felony gun charge had his most serious conviction vacated and his sentence reduced to no more than four years.

A jury in Marion Superior Court convicted David F. Wood of five counts of Class D felony possession of child pornography, and he pleaded guilty to Class B felony possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. Wood’s wife had notified authorities after she found him in possession of photos of nude girls who appeared to be underage. Police who searched Wood’s house found two pistols on a closet shelf beneath male clothing.

In a bifurcated trial, Wood was found guilty of five of 10 counts brought against him of possessing child porn. “The jury also returned a form entitled ‘VERDICT,’ … on which the jury was to determine whether ‘Wood knowingly or intentionally possessed a firearm,’ … and on which the jury foreman marked the box for ‘NO,’” Judge Melissa May wrote for a unanimous Court of Appeals panel in David F. Wood v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1207-CR-615.

“Despite that verdict and concerns raised by Wood’s counsel and the deputy prosecutor, the trial court determined the State would be allowed to present additional evidence during a second phase of the trial to demonstrate Wood possessed firearms while being a SVF,” May wrote. “Just prior to the jury returning for that second phase of the trial, Wood announced he would plead guilty to Class B felony possession of a firearm by a SVF. The State then offered, in open court, to cap his possible sentence for that crime at six years, which is the minimum sentence for a Class B felony. The trial court accepted that plea and entered Wood’s convictions.”

Marion Superior Judge Robert Altice Jr. ordered Wood’s six-year sentence on the SVF conviction be served consecutive to five consecutive one-year sentences for the child porn convictions.

“The trial court made an error of law when it instructed the State it could proceed to second phase of trial even after the jury returned a verdict finding Wood had not knowingly or intentionally possessed the firearms,” May wrote. “If the court had not made that legal error, Wood would not have been placed in the position of deciding whether to plead guilty before the second phase of trial. … (W)e reverse his conviction.”

Wood argued the child porn convictions were a single episode of criminal conduct for which the punishment may not exceed four years, and the COA agreed.  
 
“We also reverse Wood’s five-year cumulative sentence for the five counts of Class D felony possession of child pornography, because that sentence violates the cap imposed by Ind. Code § 35-50-1-2, and we remand for the trial court to enter a new sentence that does not exceed four years.”

According to the Department of Correction, Wood’s projected release date had been April 2017. A sentence of four years or less would move his projected release date to no later than October.
 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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