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Judges uphold man’s conspiracy conviction

April 23, 2014

Although the state charged a man with the non-existent crime of “conspiracy to commit attempted armed robbery,” the record shows Matthew Wilhoite was actually convicted of conspiring to commit armed robbery. As such, the Indiana Court of Appeals rejected his claim he was convicted of a crime that doesn’t exist.

Wilhoite and two others developed a plan to rob Donald Willis. However, the armed robbery was unsuccessful and Wilhoite was arrested a short time later. The state alleged Wilhoite committed “conspiracy to commit attempted armed robbery, a Class B felony,” a crime Wilhoite asserts doesn’t exist.

He didn’t raise this issue during his trial, so the Court of Appeals looked at his argument to determine whether there was fundamental error. The judges concluded there was not.

While the panel agreed that people should not be charged with conspiring to attempt a crime, and that the state referenced a non-existent crime on the charging information, the judges found Wilhoite did not demonstrate fundamental error.

The record reflects that he was convicted of conspiring to commit armed robbery and the jury was instructed on the elements of conspiracy.

“Despite the erroneous title given to his crime, the information indicated elements for conspiracy to commit armed robbery and the jury instructions informed the jurors of the elements they needed to find Wilhoite guilty of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, including ‘the intent to commit the crime,’” Judge Melissa May wrote in Matthew P. Wilhoite v. State of Indiana, 34A04-1303-CR-138. “Thus, the fact that the erroneous name of the crime listed at the top of the charging information did not amount to fundamental error.”

 

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