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Appellate court affirms murder conviction; reverses on corpse abuse conviction

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The erroneous admission at trial of a statement a man made to police unquestionably influenced the jury verdicts regarding his convictions of burglary and abuse of a corpse, causing the Indiana Court of Appeals to reverse those convictions. But the COA affirmed his conviction of and sentence for murder.

In Nathan Anderson v. State of Indiana, No. 49A05-1105-CR-243, Nathan Anderson crawled through an open window and stabbed Jane Pepper numerous times, killing her. He also had sexual intercourse either before or after the murder, and he told police during an interview that his intent in entering the apartment was to rob Pepper.

A jury found Anderson guilty of murder, Class B felony burglary and Class D felony abuse of a corpse. On appeal, Anderson claimed that a buccal swab that produced DNA evidence linking him to the crime – obtained by police after he was convicted of another felony – was a violation of Indiana statute and his federal and state constitutional rights.

The COA held that the DNA evidence was obtained by “mistake,” which constitutes a valid exception to the applicable statute and federal and state exclusionary rules. But the appellate court agreed that Anderson was denied his right to counsel during questioning, and that the questioning ultimately resulted in Anderson making statements about his motive for burglary and his abuse of Pepper’s corpse. The COA therefore reversed those convictions and sentences and held that he could be retried on those charges.

The court held sufficient findings of fact support the murder conviction and his sentence of 65 years is appropriate in light of the nature of the murder.  


 

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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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