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COA: Court properly denied instruction on innocence

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A Lake Superior Court did not abuse its discretion in denying a jury instruction on the presumption of innocence submitted by a man on trial for murder and neglect of a dependent, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

In Nelson Julian Santiago v. State of Indiana, 45A03-1207-CR-304, Nelson Julian Santiago was charged with murder, battery, aggravated battery and neglect of a dependent in connection to his four-month-old daughter’s death. She died from bleeding in the brain. The state’s witness testified the baby died from shaken baby syndrome; Santiago’s expert testimony said that the bleeding could have been caused by a car accident the child was in a few months earlier or was a coagulation disorder similar to one the baby’s mother had.  Santiago was convicted of Class A felony neglect of a dependent.

The trial court refused to give Santiago’s jury instruction regarding the presumption of innocence, which was based on language from Robey v. State, 454 N.E.2d 1221, 1222 (Ind. 1983). The justices held the instruction given in that case on the theory of the defendant’s innocence must be given if requested, but ruled the trial court didn’t err in denying the presumption of innocence instruction based on the other instructions given to the jury.  

“Like Robey, a consideration of the jury instructions in this case taken as a whole demonstrates that the jury was properly instructed to presume the defendant innocent and demand that the State produce strong and persuasive evidence of guilt wholly at odds with innocence,” Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote in Santiago.

“A panel of this court has stated that Robey simply requires instructing the jury that it should fit the evidence to the presumption that a defendant is innocent. The instructions given by the trial court in this case — considered as a whole and in reference to each other — did that.”

The jury instructions in Santiago’s case appear to be based on the Indiana Pattern Jury Instructions, which is the preferred practice in Indiana, Robb noted.

 

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  • Innocent 'til proven guilty
    A defendan is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, so why do prosecutors ask defendants, can you prove you were at home, can you prove you are innocent. Doesn't the burden of proof rest with the prosecution?

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  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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