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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. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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