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Justices affirm life without parole for murderer

June 13, 2014

The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed in all respects the life without parole sentence imposed on a man sentenced for murder.

Justice Loretta Rush wrote a unanimous opinion that rejected Knapp’s claims that crime scene photos and expert witness testimony was improperly admitted and that his sentence wasn’t supported by evidence or was inappropriate in light of his character and the nature of his offense.

In Randy L. Knapp v. State of Indiana, 28S00-1305-LW-327, Rush wrote that Knapp and his de facto stepson Jeffrey Sims were meth addicts and that when Sims took his own life, Knapp blamed Stacey Lawson, Sims’ former girlfriend who had broken up with him.   
 
Knapp was arrested after Lawson’s body was found in a cemetery in Newark. The evidence trail against Knapp included phone messages saying he was “raged and crazed,” and was planning to meet Lawson and “I might beat her (expletive) brains out” and blame it on the meth.

Lawson died of massive head injuries.

“(O)ur collective judgment is that LWOP is not inappropriate in light of the nature of Defendant’s offense or his character as an offender,” Rush wrote for the court, calling his actions “calculated, premeditated and brutal.”

Knapp also has a criminal history dating to 1985, including convictions for drug and alcohol offenses, intimidation and battery causing bodily injury.

“And while we acknowledge Defendant’s genuine grief over Sims’ death, we find it minimally mitigating, because it appears to have been based at least in part on anger at being cut off from Sims’ finances,” Rush wrote. “He could have directed his indignation towards methamphetamine and the drug culture that helped bring about Sims’ death and Defendant’s own probation, but he directed it instead towards exacting brutal revenge.”

 

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