ILNews

Court rules marriage not valid, affirms sentence

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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A woman who helped her husband flee from police after committing three murders in southern Indiana can be convicted of assisting a criminal because her marriage is void in Indiana, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

In Misty D. Davis v. State of Indiana, No. 63A01-0712-CR-605, the Court of Appeals today upheld Misty Davis' convictions of and sentence for assisting a criminal in murder and giving a false statement to law enforcement. Davis' husband, Nick Harbison, attacked four people, resulting in three of the victims' deaths. When Harbison returned home following the attacks, he was covered in blood and told Davis that he "hurt a couple of people." Davis, Harbison, their child, and Harbison's stepmother Joyce Harbison, fled from Indiana twice, traveling to Missouri and Arkansas. Eventually, they returned home to Indiana where Harbison and Davis hid for several days before Harbison turned himself in to police.

Davis claimed her marriage to Harbison in Kentucky exempted her from Indiana's aiding a criminal liability, which says a parent, child, or spouse of the offender can't be held liable for assisting a criminal. But Davis' marriage in Kentucky is void in Indiana, wrote Judge James Kirsch. Indiana doesn't recognize their marriage because they went to Kentucky to evade Indiana's marriage laws; Davis was underage at the time and didn't have her mother's consent. Because the marriage was entered into under false pretenses, it's void in Indiana, so the trial court didn't err in denying Davis' motion to dismiss, wrote the judge.

The appellate court also upheld the trial court denial of Davis' motion to dismiss based on venue, admitting graphic testimony and photographs of the murders during her trial, the jury instruction detailing Indiana's marriage laws, and the use of the presentence investigation report at her sentence hearing.

The Indiana Court of Appeals found her aggregate sentence of six years executed was not excessive.
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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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