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COA affirms murder conviction

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The Indiana Court of Appeals found the state presented sufficient substantive evidence to establish that a man killed his sister’s boyfriend while staying in her apartment.

Charles Lawrence Sr. spent the night with his sister, Tekelia Lawrence, so she would feel safe after her boyfriend hit her in the mouth with a bottle. The boyfriend, Quinton Lewis, had a key to her apartment. Tekelia Lawrence smoked marijuana, took two Vicodin pills and went to bed while her brother stayed up. She awoke to the sound of “pops” and saw that her front door was open and her brother was gone. She chained the door from the inside and went back to bed.

Police arrived later that morning after someone found Lewis’ body in the hallway on the bottom floor of the apartment building. A trail of blood led to Tekelia Lawrence’s front door, there was an empty shell casing inside her apartment, and there was a bullet hole in the wall. In a state of shock, Tekelia Lawrence told police that her brother had been at the apartment and stayed with her so she could sleep.

Charles Lawrence was charged with and convicted of murder and being a habitual offender and sentenced to 90 years.

Charles Lawrence argued that the evidence placing him at the scene consisted almost entirely of impeachment evidence rather than substantive evidence. He asserted that there was insufficient substantive evidence to sustain the verdict because the only evidence presented that he was in the apartment at the time of the murder came in through the state’s impeachment of its own witnesses.

At the trial, Tekelia Lawrence testified that her brother was gone before the murder, but the state offered her prior statements to police that he had stayed the night so she could sleep as both impeachment and substantive evidence. In Charles Lawrence, Sr. v. State of Indiana, No. 02A03-1105-CR-194, Judge Terry Crone noted that Charles Lawrence’s attorney did not object to the admission of some of the statements nor did the attorney request an admonishment or jury instruction limiting the use of any of those statements to impeachment only.

The appellate court found substantial evidence of probative value to support the conclusion Charles Lawrence murdered Lewis.  

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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