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COA: No fundamental error in admitting testimony

April 29, 2014

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a man’s two convictions of sexual misconduct with a minor after finding that there was no fundamental error in the admittance of certain testimony at his trial.

In Jeremiah D. Wilkes v. State of Indiana, 32A01-1303-CR-120, Jeremiah Wilkes appealed his conviction of two Class B felonies stemming from an incident in which he performed oral sex on a 14-year-old boy and had the teen touch Wilkes’ penis. Wilkes argued that testimony from several people about what victim W.V. told people should not have been admitted at his trial.

Because he didn’t object during the trial, the Court of Appeals evaluated its admission to see if it amounted to a fundamental error. It did not, the judges held, because W.V. testified first and the hearsay testimony was merely cumulative of what he said.

The judges did find that some statements by Detective Terry Judy amounted to indirect vouching that is not allowed under Hoglund v. State, 962 N.E.2d 1230, 1237 (Ind. 2012). But in light of all the other testimony, Judy’s statements were harmless error, Judge Melissa May wrote.

The appeals court disagreed that these errors, taken together, cumulatively, constituted a fundamental error. Wilkes had argued that W.V. incorrectly said Wilkes was uncircumcised. But a picture drawn by W.V. and his explanation cleared up why he believed Wilkes was uncircumcised, the court held.
 

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