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Appellate court split on ordering new trial for mom

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has ordered a woman convicted of killing her son by setting fire to their home in 1996 receive a new trial, although one judge believed she did not meet her burden to prevail on appeal from the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief.

Chief Judge Margret Robb and Edward Najam reversed the denial of Kristine Bunch’s petition for post-conviction relief. Bunch was sentenced to 60 years for the murder of her son, Anthony. The state claimed she set the fire in their mobile home and some evidence showed accelerating material present in samples taken from the home. In 2006, she began pursuing post-conviction relief, claiming, among other things, newly discovered evidence in the form of advances in the field of fire science and a violation of due process by the state in failing to disclose certain evidence. The post-conviction court denied the petition in 2010.

In Kristine Bunch v. State of Indiana, No. 16A05-1007-PC-439, the majority determined the post-conviction court erred in determining she wasn’t entitled to a new trial on the basis of the fire victim toxicology analysis evidence because that evidence meets each of the nine requirements to be newly discovered evidence. They also found the post-conviction court clearly erred in concluding there was no Brady violation in the state’s failure to disclose material exculpatory or impeaching evidence to Bunch prior to trial. Based on these two issues, she is entitled to a new trial, wrote Robb.

Judge Terry Crone wrote a 14-page dissent in which he did not believe Bunch met her burden to prevail on her appeal of the denial of post-conviction relief. She didn’t show that the evidence as a whole leads unerringly and unmistakably to a conclusion opposite of what the post-conviction court reached.

 

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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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