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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. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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