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Sentence in murder-for-hire plot cut

January 1, 2007
The Indiana Supreme Court has slashed a sentence for an Anderson man convicted last year in a murder-for-hire plot of his wife and mother-in-law.

Justices unanimously granted transfer and issued a five-page opinion Wednesday afternoon in Aaron Reid v. State of Indiana, 48S04-0711-CR-552, a case from Madison County that was affirmed by the Court of Appeals in a not-for-publication opinion in May.

Last year, Madison Superior Judge Thomas Newman gave Reid a maximum 50-year prison sentence for conspiracy to commit murder. The case began when Reid was incarcerated in county jail in early 2006, and he had hatched a plot with a fellow inmate to have his wife of less than a year and his mother-in-law killed. That inmate, however, was a police informant who contacted an undercover officer about the plot. After his conviction, Reid argued his sentence was inappropriate and the appellate court affirmed the lower court's decision, calling the crime "particularly heinous" because of his lengthy criminal record and how his daughter, less than 2 at the time, would have been left without a mother and grandmother.

Citing a variety of circumstances, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard wrote for the court that Reid is hardly the worst offender deserving a maximum sentence. Instead, the court cut the prison term by 20 years, revising it to the advisory 30-year sentence.

The state's high court doesn't say Judge Newman erred; rather it simply states that the reduced sentence would be "more appropriate."

A large part of the rationale in the decision was Reid's mental health history, which included attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, borderline intellectual disorder, bi-polar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. That made him an easy target by a police informant who had a history of dishonesty, the court wrote. But since the victims also requested leniency, Reid should not be considered one of the worst types of offenders, Chief Justice Shepard wrote.

"Given that no one was injured, both potential victims pleaded for leniency, and Reid had a history of mental health problems, it is inappropriate to order twenty-two year old Reid to serve fifty years," the opinion states.
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