ILNews

Justices split on decision to allow a third try for death penalty

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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 A split decision by the Indiana Supreme Court today allows the state to seek the death penalty a third time against a man convicted of shooting a Gary police officer in a robbery gone bad in 1981.

The 3-2 decision came late this afternoon with Justices Theodore Boehm and Robert Rucker dissenting in separate opinions. Justice Frank Sullivan authorized the majority's 22-page opinion. The ruling in State of Indiana v. Zolo Agona Azania, No. 02S03-0508-PD-364 (http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/05100701fsj.pdf), reverses a trial court decision and orders a new penalty phase.

In 2005, Allen Superior Judge Steve David barred prosecutors from seeking the death penalty for a third time because of the lapse of time and ensuing issues that involve speedy trials, due process, and fundamental fairness arguments.

Azania was first convicted in 1982 of murder for a robbery of the Gary National Bank the year before, which resulted in the shooting death of Lt. George Yaros. Azania and two others were trying to flee the bank - they both received 60-year sentences; Azania's penalty hasn't been that clear-cut. The Indiana Supreme Court has twice overturned his death sentence, although the conviction has withstood the test of time.

During arguments in June, this ruling's author, Justice Sullivan, wondered out load if there was some point in time where it's not fair to go through the penalty phase where death is on the line. Challenges presented in this appeal include old evidence, the death of key witnesses on both sides, and how Azania's mitigation witnesses are no longer alive to testify in person.

In his opinion, Justice Sullivan wrote, "We find that neither the delay nor any prejudice that Azania may suffer from it violates his constitutional rights. The State may continue to seek the death penalty."

However, the dissenting justices pointed out how novel these arguments are and that justices on the Supreme Court of the United States have invited state and lower court judges to consider whether the passage of time alone is sufficient to question execution.

"I recognize that the (SCOTUS) has yet to entertain a Lacky claim despite invitations from Justices Stevens and Breyer to do so," Justice Boehm wrote, referring to Lacky v. Texas, 514 U.S. 1045 (1995). "I therefore cannot conclude that such a claim is established under the Federal Constitution. I do, however, find the reasoning ... to be persuasive and therefore would hold that the Indiana Constitution prevents further pursuit of the death penalty in this case."
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  1. Nice work, Courtney!

  2. The O'Banions also sued Ford claiming the Roush vehicle's throttle cable was defective and stuck, and did not present evidence or argue to the contrary at trial. The proceedings were delayed by an appeal on the admissibility of expert testimony in which O' Banions also joined with the Roush Estate.

  3. AP writes "The justices will hear the appeal of the Colorado baker that pits his claims of religious freedom against the rights of the same-sex couple who wanted a wedding cake to commemorate their marriage." HOW ABOUT IF THIS WERE THIS ISSUE: "The justices will hear the appeal of the Colorado Jewish videographer that pits his claims of religious freedom against the rights of the Holocaust deniers who wanted to hire his photography studio to shoot their documentary debunking the six-million-cremated-theory ..." Would anyone doubt that the Jewish fellow's rights triumphed? Or how about "The justices will hear the appeal of the Colorado black carpenter that pits his claims of religious freedom against the rights of a white supremacist who wants a gallows built on his property to stage the mock hanging of former president Obama." Hey, would anyone doubt that the Black fellow's rights to contract triumphed? BUT ... make the "villain" in the story Christian conservatives (insert two minute hate here) and the victims gay (so cute they are), and it is bar the door Katie, for Big Brother's judicial stormtroopers simply must weigh in to wash clean the minds of any who would DARE to dissent from the elists' mandated spiritus mundi.

  4. The voices of the prophets are more on blogs than subway walls these days, Dawn. Here is the voice of one calling out in the wilderness ... against a corrupted judiciary ... that remains corrupt a decade and a half later ... due to, so sadly, the acquiescence of good judges unwilling to shake the forest ... for fear that is not faith .. http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/2013/09/prof-alan-dershowitz-on-indiana.html

  5. So I purchased a vehicle cash from the lot on West Washington in Feb 2017. Since then I found it the vehicle had been declared a total loss and had sat in a salvage yard due to fire. My title does not show any of that. I also have had to put thousands of dollars into repairs because it was not a solid vehicle like they stated. I need to find out how to contact the lawyers on this lawsuit.

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