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COA affirms belt considered a deadly weapon in domestic battery case

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The belt used by a man to repeatedly strike his girlfriend qualifies as a deadly weapon and supports elevating his battery conviction to a Class C felony, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Friday.

Dee Ward was convicted of the felony battery charge and Class A misdemeanor domestic battery for hitting his sometimes girlfriend J.M. with a leather belt from her waist to her ankles. The incident occurred at Ward’s home, and he dropped her off the next morning at her mother and stepfather’s home. When they saw the severe bruising and injuries to J.M.’s body, as well as how much pain she was in, they called 911.

Paramedic Linda Hodge-McKinney, who is trained in dealing with domestic violence cases, treated J.M. at her home and decided, based on the injuries and potential for internal injuries, J.M. needed to go to the hospital. At the hospital, forensic nurse Julie Morrison treated J.M. Both women asked J.M. in the course of treatment what had happened and J.M. told them Ward was responsible for the injuries.

When it came time for Ward’s trial, J.M. was considered a missing person. Because she was not around to give a deposition, the state asked for – and the trial court allowed – the medical personnel to testify as to what J.M. told her.

In Dee Ward v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1401-CR-25, Ward claimed that his Sixth Amendment right to confrontation was violated. But the admission of the victim’s statements to Hodge-McKinney and Morrison did not violate Ward’s confrontation rights because the statements were not testimonial. The medical personnel asked J.M. about her injuries and who caused them because they wanted to make sure that J.M. was safe and that her attacker was not present.

Ward also argued that the evidence is insufficient to prove that the belt used during the battery constituted a deadly weapon. But based on the definition of Class C felony battery, the belt qualifies because J.M. suffered welts and serious bruising from her waist to her ankles, as well as severe pain. J.M. was also at risk for internal injuries as a result of the beating.

“Given the serious nature of J.M.’s injuries and the severe pain suffered by J.M., we cannot say that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the trial court’s determination that the belt used during the commission of the battery qualified as a deadly weapon. Ward’s claim to the contrary amounts to nothing more than a request for this court to reweigh the evidence, which we will not do,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote.
 

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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