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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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