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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. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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