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High court grants transfer in molestation case

January 1, 2008
The Indiana Supreme Court has granted transfer in a case to determine whether a defendant's convictions were unfairly affected by taped interviews played at trial.

In Brian Tyler v. State of Indiana, No. 69A04-0702-CR-120, the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld Tyler's convictions of vicarious sexual gratification and two counts of felony child molesting, as well as finding his sentence was appropriate.

Tyler had exposed himself to five children in his care and touched one of the young girls. He also had the three girls touch him. Three recorded interviews done while the children were at Cincinnati Children's Hospital were admitted into evidence at Tyler's trial. The five children also testified live in front of the jury.

Tyler appealed his convictions, arguing the admission of the taped interviews was inadmissible because they exposed the jury to a "'repetitive drumbeat' of allegations." He also claims admission of the tapes was a fundamental error.

He compared his case to Stone v. State, 536 N.E. 2d534, 541 (Ind. Ct. App. 1989), in which the court reversed a conviction of child molesting because the state used multiple witnesses to produce a "drum beat repetition" of the child's story. In that case, four adult witnesses testified before the child, which hindered the child's credibility.

However, Tyler's case was found not to be like Stone because the children's live testimony was presented first and not bolstered by testimony from adults. The only repetition was the playing of the recorded interviews and there was no undue repetition of any single witness's story, ruled the appellate court.

Tyler also claimed his total sentence of 110 years for the three convictions and 30-year habitual offender enhancement was inappropriate. The appellate court ruled that although Tyler has had a hard life and a low IQ, he is a danger to society. He committed the offenses that contributed to his habitual offender charge while he was in prison and he abused a position of trust.
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