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Lake County murder conviction affirmed

April 4, 2013

A Lake Superior trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to give an accused murderer’s proposed jury instruction regarding the presumption of innocence, the Indiana Court of Appeals held.

Robert Lawrence Albores Jr. was charged with murder and criminal gang activity for the shooting death of Michael Miranda. The two were in rival street gangs. The state claimed Albores shot Miranda in retaliation for his cousin’s death in 2008; Albores argued he shot Miranda out of fear for his life. The jury was instructed on self-defense and the lesser include offense of reckless homicide. Albores was convicted only of murder.

In Robert Lawrence Albores, Jr. v. State of Indiana, 45A03-1207-CR-327, Albores argued his jury instruction should have been given and that it was based on an identical instruction that was rejected by a trial court in another case, an action later found by the Court of Appeals to be an abuse of discretion.

But the judges must also look at the jury instructions given at Albores’ trial, and they found that the information in the proposed instruction was covered in other instructions. The jury was properly instructed to presume the defendant innocent and demand that the state produce strong and persuasive evidence of guilt wholly at odds with innocence, Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote.

“The rejected instruction was covered in substance by these instructions, and thus the trial court did not abuse its discretion,” she wrote.  

 

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