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COA reverses conviction based on charging information

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Because the charging information did not give a defendant fair notice of the crime of which he was convicted, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed his Class B felony attempted aggravated battery conviction.  

Billy Young, Latoya Lee, Marquise Lee and an unidentified man went to the apartment of Ramon Gude two days after Latoya Lee got in a fight with Gude’s girlfriend, Tiara Robertson. Marquise and Ramon began fighting. The unidentified man shot Ramon much to the surprise of Young and Marquise Lee. Ramon died of his injuries and the three known assailants were charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

After a two-day bench trial, the judge determined the proof was insufficient to support the charges, but that the state had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Latoya Lee was going to arrange for a “beat down” of Ramon. The judge convicted each co-defendant of Class B felony attempted aggravated battery.

At first blush, it could seem that attempted aggravated battery could be an inherently lesser included offense of murder, but under the circumstances of this case, that conviction is not appropriate, the appeals court held in Billy Young v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1310-CR-868.

“It stands to reason that the facts alleged in the charging information must be the same facts that form the basis for a lesser included offense,” Judge Margret Robb emphasized. “The trial court found the alleged facts underlying Young’s murder charge were not proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and his conviction for attempted aggravated battery was based on other evidence presented at trial. Thus, Young’s attempted aggravated battery conviction is not a lesser included offense of the murder charge.”

“Young was denied the ability to limit his defense when he was convicted of a crime despite the trier of fact’s belief that a connection between Young and the charged murder was not proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Because Young was convicted of a crime entirely different from the one with which he was charged, his conviction cannot stand,” she wrote.
 

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