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COA: Jury adequately instructed on presumption of innocence

December 20, 2013

The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a man’s argument that his child molestation conviction should be reversed because the trial court did not tender his jury instruction on the presumption of innocence. The judges found the court’s instruction adequately instructed the jury.

In Stephen Brakie v. State of Indiana, 65A05-1304-CR-172, Stephen Brakie was convicted of Class A felony child molesting for inserting a screwdriver into the vagina of a 4-year-old, causing significant tearing and bleeding.

“Here, we find that the court’s instructions adequately instructed the jury on the presumption of innocence,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote. “Specifically, the court instructed the jury that under the law of this State a person charged with a crime is presumed to be innocent and that ‘[y]ou should attempt to fit the evidence to the presumption that Stephen J. Brakie is innocent … .’  This instruction satisfied the Indiana Supreme Court’s holding in Robey that the jury should fit the evidence to the presumption that a defendant is innocent.”

The judges also held that there was sufficient evidence to support the molestation conviction. Brakie had argued that victim N.J. had told three different stories as to what happened. The court noted that this is an issue of witness credibility and it is up to the jury to weigh witness credibility.
 

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