ILNews

Court upholds murder conviction

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a Brown County man's murder conviction, finding there was sufficient evidence to show he killed his wife in 2003.

The man, Michael B. Smith, appealed his conviction, arguing evidence was admitted in violation of Indiana Evidence Rule 404(b) and that it was insufficient to support his conviction. Smith was found guilty of killing his wife Linda, whom he claimed he found alone in their hot tub after he fell asleep earlier in the evening.

In Michael B. Smith v. State of Indiana, No. 07A05-0701-CR-50, the appellate court unanimously found the admittance of testimony from first responders, police, doctors, relatives of Smith's wife, and co-workers - Smith only objected to one person's testimony at trial - was not a fundamental error by the trial court. The witnesses testified about how Linda's body wasn't wet even though Smith claimed he pulled her from the hot tub and his clothes and the area around the hot tub were not wet when first responders arrived.

Some testified how Linda was different when Smith was around, and how their business was in financial trouble. Their testimony also indicated Linda suffered verbal and sometimes physical abuse at the hands of her husband.

A part of the state's theory for Smith's motive to kill Linda was a financial one. Their business was in trouble and he had taken out life insurance polices only on Linda. He also cashed in her pension to support the business.

There was no error by the court to allow admission of Smith's behavior and treatment of his wife, including preventing her from giving out her phone number, requiring her to check in with him, and making derogatory comments toward her, Judge Melissa May wrote.

The trial court conducted a hearing on the state's notice of intent to use 404(b) evidence and ordered that a large portion of it be based on recent observations. The court also gave limiting instructions, and as a result, didn't abuse its discretion, she wrote.

The state also provided ample evidence as to his motive to kill Linda. Smith's story of how he found Linda, how she may have died, and what he was doing before he discovered her body alone in the hot tub was inconsistent, the judge wrote.

"There was sufficient evidence for a rational jury to find Michael guilty of murder," Judge May wrote.
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  1. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  4. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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