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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. 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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