Judges uphold 40-year sentence in drug deal turned robbery

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a man’s 40-year sentence for his role in the robbery of two people after he set up a drug deal with one of the victims.

George Moss knew Philip Potenza and Randall Peterman. Moss set up a deal to sell marijuana to Potenza down the street from Potenza’s home, where he lived with Peterman. When Moss showed up, Todd Ruffin pointed a gun at Moss and demanded everything on him. The men then went to Potenza’s home, where they robbed Peterman. Peterman was shot in the leg in the process.

Police spoke with Peterman while he was in the hospital, and he said that it appeared Moss was also being held up by Ruffin and had his hands in the air. Peterman later said at Moss’ trial this statement was inaccurate and that he did not remember much about his time at the hospital because he was in shock. He testified he never saw a gun pointed at Moss and the two acted like a team.  

Moss presented a duress defense at his trial, claiming Ruffin pointed the gun at him and told him he would be killed if he did not do everything he was told. The defense wanted Peterman’s statement marked as defense exhibit A; the state objected to admission as an exhibit but not to the transcript being marked. After closing arguments, the defense wanted to have the court look at the statement, but the trial court denied it. Moss was found guilty of felony burglary, two counts of robbery, criminal confinement and carrying a handgun without a license.

In George Moss v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1311-CR-961, the Court of Appeals declined to find that the trial court abused its discretion by not reopening the case to admit the statement taken during Peterman’s interview with police at the hospital.

“Although Peterman testified and was subject to cross-examination, the statement was not given under oath. It was therefore inadmissible hearsay. At best, Peterman’s prior inconsistent statement was admissible only to impeach him, not as substantive evidence to prove that Moss was also under the threat of Ruffin’s gun,” Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote.

The judges also rejected Moss’ request to have his sentences run concurrently, which would reduce his overall sentence from 40 years to 30 years. They pointed to his instigation and participation in the crimes and his criminal history.


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  1. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

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  5. Research by William J Federer Chief Justice John Marshall commented May 9, 1833, on the pamphlet The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States written by Rev. Jasper Adams, President of the College of Charleston, South Carolina (The Papers of John Marshall, ed. Charles Hobson, Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2006, p, 278): "Reverend Sir, I am much indebted to you for the copy of your valuable sermon on the relation of Christianity to civil government preached before the convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Charleston, on the 13th of February last. I have read it with great attention and advantage. The documents annexed to the sermon certainly go far in sustaining the proposition which it is your purpose to establish. One great object of the colonial charters was avowedly the propagation of the Christian faith. Means have been employed to accomplish this object, and those means have been used by government..." John Marshall continued: "No person, I believe, questions the importance of religion to the happiness of man even during his existence in this world. It has at all times employed his most serious meditation, and had a decided influence on his conduct. The American population is entirely Christian, and with us, Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it. Legislation on the subject is admitted to require great delicacy, because freedom of conscience and respect for our religion both claim our most serious regard. You have allowed their full influence to both. With very great respect, I am Sir, your Obedt., J. Marshall."