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Appellate court upholds murder conviction

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The Indiana Court of Appeals found the circumstantial evidence presented at trial was sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that a man killed his wife.

In Scott Pattison v. State of Indiana, No. 85A02-1101-CR-88, Scott Pattison challenged his felony murder conviction, arguing the trial court violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment and Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution by admitting surveillance equipment and video into evidence. He also claimed the trial court abused its discretion by allowing the jury to examine a weightlifting machine during deliberations and by refusing his request to question the jurors about their examination of the machine.

Pattison called 911 to say that his wife, Lisa, wasn’t breathing; she later died at the hospital. Pattison told police that he had come home from work to find his wife’s body in their exercise room, lying on a weightlifting bench with a weight bar pinned across her throat. Police saw Pattison’s home had a surveillance system but didn’t think it recorded anything since a DVD was missing from the slot. Police later learned that the surveillance system recorded to an internal hard drive. A search warrant allowed for police to seize the system, which held a recording showing Pattison arriving home from work hours earlier than what he told police.

At trial, the weightlifting machine was installed in the courtroom and the jury was allowed to come back into the room during deliberations to examine it. Some jurors recreated scenarios played out during the trial by detectives and witnesses.

The appellate court found a lot of the information used in the probable cause affidavit was stale, and it was a close call, but the remaining information could support the search warrant under the federal and state constitutions. The judges also found no issues with the jurors’ examination of the weightlifting machine because the experiments the jurors conducted with it were in line with the testimony presented at trial. There was also no abuse of discretion by the trial court in denying Pattison’s request to question the jury about their experiments.

The circumstantial evidence in the case – including that the Pattisons’ marriage was under severe stress and Lisa’s neck injury wasn’t consistent with the weight bar falling on her neck – was sufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Pattison killed his wife, the judges ruled.

 

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  1. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  2. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  3. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  4. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  5. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

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