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COA: 6th Amendment not violated in juvenile murder case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has found that a juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in waiving a 15-year-old boy’s murder trial to adult court and that Indiana’s juvenile waiver statute does not violate the Sixth Amendment.

On August 22, 2008, Martin Villalon chased down 15-year-old John Shoulders and fatally shot him because Villalon believed Shoulders was a Vice Lord gang member. Villalon, who was also 15 at the time, was waived to adult court in 2009 following a hearing in juvenile court. He was charged with murder, and a jury trial found him guilty as charged. On July 26, 2010, the trial court sentenced him to 60 years in prison.

In Martin A. Villalon, Jr. v. State of Indiana, No. 45A03-1010-CR-544, Villalon appealed his conviction and sentence. He raised several issues for review, including the claim that Indiana’s juvenile waiver statute is unconstitutional because it deprives juveniles of a Sixth Amendment right to have a jury determine facts supporting enhanced punishment for an offense.

Villalon argued that, because his trial in adult court greatly increased his punishment, he was entitled to have a jury determination of facts supporting the enhancement. In support of that argument, Villalon cited Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 490 (2000), which set forth the general rule that “any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury.”  However, more recently in Oregon v. Ice, 555 U.S. 160, 129 S.Ct. 711, 714 (2009), the United States Supreme Court declined to extend the Apprendi rule in the context of consecutive versus concurrent sentencing, holding that Apprendi did not apply to concurrent or consecutive sentencing in which the jury had traditionally played no role.

The appeals court held that the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial does not apply to juvenile proceedings, and that Villalon had not proved that the Indiana juvenile statute violates that amendment. Villalon also failed to establish that his waiver to adult court lacked evidentiary support for the statutory prerequisites, and he failed to demonstrate ineffectiveness of trial counsel or reversible error in the admission of evidence or the conduct of the trial. In light of Villalon’s character and previous criminal history, the court held that his 60-year sentence is not inappropriate.

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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