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COA finds double jeopardy in DeLaney attacker's case

February 27, 2012

The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that two convictions of a former attorney who attacked a lawyer-legislator violated Indiana’s double jeopardy clause and that one of the charges should be reduced in order to remedy the violation.

In Augustus Mendenhall v. State of Indiana, No. 29A02-1104-CR-353, Augustus Mendenhall, the man who beat and held at gunpoint Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, in October 2009 because of a long-standing dispute in which Mendenhall blamed DeLaney for his family's legal issues, appealed his convictions.

Mendenhall, an attorney who was admitted to practice in 2008 but has since been permanently disbarred as a result of his attack on DeLaney, was convicted of Class A felony attempted murder, Class A felony robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, Class B felony aggravated battery, Class B felony criminal confinement and Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement.  A jury found Mendenhall guilty but mentally ill on all counts, and Hamilton Superior Judge William Hughes sentenced him to an aggregate term of 40 years.

On appeal, Mendenhall raised five issues that included the trial court’s denying his motion for mistrial, his objection to allowing the state to present a rebuttal witness, and whether the state should have been allowed to present rebuttal to Mendenhall’s case following court-appointed medical witness testimony. The court affirmed on those issues, as well as on claims questioning the evidence sufficiency.

But in examining double jeopardy questions, the appellate court found that the Class B felony conviction for aggravated battery and Class A felony conviction for robbery resulting in serious bodily injury violate Indiana’s probation against double jeopardy. The court remanded with instructions to reduce the robbery conviction to a Class C felony.

 

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