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Justices take felony murder, child support cases

May 9, 2011

The Indiana Supreme Court has granted transfer to two cases - a convicted murder’s appeal and a case involving child support nonpayment.

The justices accepted Joey Addison v. State of Indiana, No. 49S05-1105-CR-267, in which Joey Addison, an African-American, claimed the trial court erred in denying his Batson challenges and erred in excluding evidence. Addison was found guilty but mentally ill of murder and sentenced to 45 years. The trial court had accepted the state’s race-neutral rationale for striking four African-Americans who were potential jurors. The Indiana Court of Appeals concluded the state’s proffered explanations were facially valid and there was no racially discriminatory intent inherent.

He also claimed the trial court should have admitted his sister’s prior deposition into evidence despite her refusal to travel from Georgia to testify at his trial. The Court of Appeals found the sister’s testimony created an issue of fact that the jury could have taken into account in arriving at its verdict, but it was a harmless error under the circumstances of the case.

In Amir H. Sanjari v. State of Indiana, No. 20S03-1105-CR-268, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that the double jeopardy prohibition had been violated by filing two charges of Class C felony nonsupport of a dependent child against Amir Sanjari related to his refusal to pay any support for his two children. The judges noted that the law says a person can be charged with a Class C felony if the total amount of unpaid child support is at least $15,000 and is owed for one or more children. Sanjari, who owed more than $17,000, argued that only one child support order had been issued and it included both children, so he shouldn’t have been charged or convicted twice.

The Court of Appeals vacated one of his convictions and affirmed the five-year sentence on the remaining charge. The appellate court also concluded Sanjari received enough notice and there wasn’t evidence that he couldn’t have attended a hearing.

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