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Thief who aimed to teach victim ‘lesson’ gets no relief on appeal

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An Indianapolis man who said he stole a video monitoring system and car wash tickets to teach the victim a lesson about leaving valuables in an unlocked car lost his appeal Friday.

Hiawathia Hunt was sentenced to 545 days in prison, with approximately half of that as time executed, after he was convicted of theft for stealing the items from the owner of a spa and salon where Hunt leased space and worked. Hunt later returned the surveillance system, but not the car wash tickets for which the spa owner paid more than $400 to sell as a fundraiser for her son’s Little League team.

“According to Hunt, he saw that the door was open on (the victim’s) parked car and took the items in order to teach (her) a ‘lesson,’” Judge Paul Mathias wrote in the unanimous seven-page Court of Appeals decision, Hiawathia Hunt v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1207-CR-371.

The court ruled that a judge’s offer to trim time off Hunt’s sentence in exchange for restitution did not constitute a conditional sentence deemed impermissible in Saddler v. State, 953 N.E.2d 1220 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011).

After a bench trial in Marion Superior Court, Judge Reuben Hill chastised Hunt and disregarded his apology and expression of remorse to the victim. Hill said Hunt had acted with malice because he had not returned the tickets or paid for them.

At sentencing, Hill told Hunt that the victim “needs her $400 back. You pay that $400 and I will reconsider how much time you have to serve in prison.”

“In the present case, Hunt claims that his sentence was also conditional. We disagree and find the present case distinguishable from Saddler,” Mathias wrote. “In that case, the trial court gave the defendant repeated opportunities to pay restitution and explicitly stated that if she did not pay restitution, then she was going to serve time in jail.

“The trial court simply explained to Hunt that modification of his sentence was possible if he paid restitution to the victim; it did not make Hunt’s sentence conditional on the payment of restitution. Because Hunt’s sentence was not conditional, and because Hunt alleges no further error in his sentence, we affirm.”



 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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