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COA finds mentally ill man was aware actions were wrong

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a trial court in finding a man who is mentally ill was nevertheless aware of the wrongfulness of his actions.

In Luke Keys Carson v. State of Indiana, No. 29A04-1106-CR-278, Luke Keys Carson appealed his sentence for two counts of battery by means of a deadly weapon, burglary and resisting law enforcement. At trial, a jury found the man to be guilty but mentally ill, and not guilty of two counts of attempted murder.

In April 2009, Carson entered the unlocked trailer of a neighbor in a mobile home park, holding a black Bible and sheets of paper. The woman – Angelina Zuniga – spoke little English and did not understand what he was saying to her. After standing inside her trailer for a few minutes, Carson said “never mind” and left. When he returned later, Zuniga opened the door to ask him what he wanted, and he cut her hand with a knife. Zuniga and a friend forced the door shut, as Carson tried to force the door open from the outside.

That same morning, Carson got into a fight with Jorge Hernandez. Carson kept inching closer to Hernandez, asking him if he was “Richard,” and when Hernandez pushed him away, a fight ensued. Hernandez felt something “poking” him in the abdomen. He pulled Carson’s jacket up over the man’s head and saw that Carson had a knife. Hernandez ran and Carson threw the knife at him. After Hernandez saw Carson no longer had the knife, he returned, and the two began fighting again.

A police officer arrived, and Hernandez and Carson voluntarily stopped fighting. Hernandez pointed at Carson, who had retrieved his knife, and Carson fled. The officer told Carson to drop the knife or he would shoot, and while Carson dropped the knife, he continued to run until he tripped on gravel and fell. When another police officer arrived to assist, Carson asked for an attorney.

Two doctors performed a psychological evaluation on Carson in May 2009. They both concluded Carson had a psychiatric disorder that substantially disturbed his thinking and rendered him incompetent to stand trial. However, due to Carson’s confused state, they were not able to determine whether Carson could appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions at the time he committed them.

A competency hearing found Carson was not competent to stand trial, and he was committed to Logansport State Mental Hospital. On Oct. 25, 2010, Logansport filed a report notifying the court that Carson was competent to stand trial.

The COA agreed that while Carson’s demeanor showed that he was mentally ill, statements he made at the time of his arrest indicated he was aware of the wrongfulness of his actions. He apologized, and he made comments that his actions were “stupid.”

Carson argued that his burglary conviction was not supported by evidence. But the COA wrote that Indiana Code 35-43-2-1 provides that a person who breaks and enters a dwelling of another person with intent to commit a felony in it commits Class B felony burglary. In statements to police, Carson said he had gone into Zuniga’s trailer to kill a baby but could not do it. That statement shows that he was able to appreciate the wrongfulness of the intent to commit murder, even though there was no baby in Zuniga’s home.



 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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