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Justices uphold murderer's convictions

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The Indiana Supreme Court has affirmed that a man will serve life in prison without parole for his role in the murders of seven people in Indianapolis in 2006.

Desmond Turner and James Stewart were convicted of seven counts of murder, robbery and other charges related to the shooting deaths of seven family members on Hamilton Avenue in Indianapolis. Turner received life in prison without parole plus 88 years; Stewart received a term of 425 years, which was later revised to 421 on appeal. A footnote revealed that the justices also entered an order denying Stewart’s petition to transfer. At issue in the instant case are Turner’s convictions.

He challenged the testimony of Indianapolis Marion County Forensic Services Agency firearms and tool mark examiner Michael Putzek dealing with the discovery of  critical tool marks on certain items found at the crime scene and at where Turner stayed after the murders. He also challenged the admittance of other testimony, as well as claimed that his right to confrontation was denied.

In Desmond Turner v. State of Indiana, No. 49S00-0912-CR-565, the justices rejected Turner’s claims that Putzek’s opinion on the tool marks of certain items were made by a common tool was improper because it didn’t meet Indiana Evidence Rule 702(b)’s threshold for scientific reliability, and that inconsistencies in the examination process rendered the results of the process unreliable. They weren’t persuaded by Turner’s argument that because there was no known suspect firearm in the case, expert testimony identifying fired cartridge casings to unfired cartridges based on tool marks on the case sidewall is inadmissible.

The high court also found Turner wasn’t denied the right to confrontation. Although the trial court erred in allowing testimony that Turner’s mother alledgedly relayed a message from Turner to a female friend of his, that error does not require reversal. A reasonable fact finder could have found by a reasonable doubt that Turner either actually committed or participated as an accomplice in the crimes for which he was convicted, wrote Justice Robert Rucker.
 

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  1. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  2. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

  3. She must be a great lawyer

  4. Ind. Courts - "Illinois ranks 49th for how court system serves disadvantaged" What about Indiana? A story today from Dave Collins of the AP, here published in the Benton Illinois Evening News, begins: Illinois' court system had the third-worst score in the nation among state judiciaries in serving poor, disabled and other disadvantaged members of the public, according to new rankings. Illinois' "Justice Index" score of 34.5 out of 100, determined by the nonprofit National Center for Access to Justice, is based on how states serve people with disabilities and limited English proficiency, how much free legal help is available and how states help increasing numbers of people representing themselves in court, among other issues. Connecticut led all states with a score of 73.4 and was followed by Hawaii, Minnesota, New York and Delaware, respectively. Local courts in Washington, D.C., had the highest overall score at 80.9. At the bottom was Oklahoma at 23.7, followed by Kentucky, Illinois, South Dakota and Indiana. ILB: That puts Indiana at 46th worse. More from the story: Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Colorado, Tennessee and Maine had perfect 100 scores in serving people with disabilities, while Indiana, Georgia, Wyoming, Missouri and Idaho had the lowest scores. Those rankings were based on issues such as whether interpretation services are offered free to the deaf and hearing-impaired and whether there are laws or rules allowing service animals in courthouses. The index also reviewed how many civil legal aid lawyers were available to provide free legal help. Washington, D.C., had nearly nine civil legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty, the highest rate in the country. Texas had the lowest rate, 0.43 legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty. http://indianalawblog.com/archives/2014/11/ind_courts_illi_1.html

  5. A very thorough opinion by the federal court. The Rooker-Feldman analysis, in particular, helps clear up muddy water as to the entanglement issue. Looks like the Seventh Circuit is willing to let its district courts cruise much closer to the Indiana Supreme Court's shorelines than most thought likely, at least when the ADA on the docket. Some could argue that this case and Praekel, taken together, paint a rather unflattering picture of how the lower courts are being advised as to their duties under the ADA. A read of the DOJ amicus in Praekel seems to demonstrate a less-than-congenial view toward the higher echelons in the bureaucracy.

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