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Appeals panel voids gun conviction, cuts child porn sentence

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An Indianapolis man sentenced to 11 years in prison for possession of child pornography and a felony gun charge had his most serious conviction vacated and his sentence reduced to no more than four years.

A jury in Marion Superior Court convicted David F. Wood of five counts of Class D felony possession of child pornography, and he pleaded guilty to Class B felony possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. Wood’s wife had notified authorities after she found him in possession of photos of nude girls who appeared to be underage. Police who searched Wood’s house found two pistols on a closet shelf beneath male clothing.

In a bifurcated trial, Wood was found guilty of five of 10 counts brought against him of possessing child porn. “The jury also returned a form entitled ‘VERDICT,’ … on which the jury was to determine whether ‘Wood knowingly or intentionally possessed a firearm,’ … and on which the jury foreman marked the box for ‘NO,’” Judge Melissa May wrote for a unanimous Court of Appeals panel in David F. Wood v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1207-CR-615.

“Despite that verdict and concerns raised by Wood’s counsel and the deputy prosecutor, the trial court determined the State would be allowed to present additional evidence during a second phase of the trial to demonstrate Wood possessed firearms while being a SVF,” May wrote. “Just prior to the jury returning for that second phase of the trial, Wood announced he would plead guilty to Class B felony possession of a firearm by a SVF. The State then offered, in open court, to cap his possible sentence for that crime at six years, which is the minimum sentence for a Class B felony. The trial court accepted that plea and entered Wood’s convictions.”

Marion Superior Judge Robert Altice Jr. ordered Wood’s six-year sentence on the SVF conviction be served consecutive to five consecutive one-year sentences for the child porn convictions.

“The trial court made an error of law when it instructed the State it could proceed to second phase of trial even after the jury returned a verdict finding Wood had not knowingly or intentionally possessed the firearms,” May wrote. “If the court had not made that legal error, Wood would not have been placed in the position of deciding whether to plead guilty before the second phase of trial. … (W)e reverse his conviction.”

Wood argued the child porn convictions were a single episode of criminal conduct for which the punishment may not exceed four years, and the COA agreed.  
 
“We also reverse Wood’s five-year cumulative sentence for the five counts of Class D felony possession of child pornography, because that sentence violates the cap imposed by Ind. Code § 35-50-1-2, and we remand for the trial court to enter a new sentence that does not exceed four years.”

According to the Department of Correction, Wood’s projected release date had been April 2017. A sentence of four years or less would move his projected release date to no later than October.
 

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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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