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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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