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COA finds mentally ill man was aware actions were wrong

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a trial court in finding a man who is mentally ill was nevertheless aware of the wrongfulness of his actions.

In Luke Keys Carson v. State of Indiana, No. 29A04-1106-CR-278, Luke Keys Carson appealed his sentence for two counts of battery by means of a deadly weapon, burglary and resisting law enforcement. At trial, a jury found the man to be guilty but mentally ill, and not guilty of two counts of attempted murder.

In April 2009, Carson entered the unlocked trailer of a neighbor in a mobile home park, holding a black Bible and sheets of paper. The woman – Angelina Zuniga – spoke little English and did not understand what he was saying to her. After standing inside her trailer for a few minutes, Carson said “never mind” and left. When he returned later, Zuniga opened the door to ask him what he wanted, and he cut her hand with a knife. Zuniga and a friend forced the door shut, as Carson tried to force the door open from the outside.

That same morning, Carson got into a fight with Jorge Hernandez. Carson kept inching closer to Hernandez, asking him if he was “Richard,” and when Hernandez pushed him away, a fight ensued. Hernandez felt something “poking” him in the abdomen. He pulled Carson’s jacket up over the man’s head and saw that Carson had a knife. Hernandez ran and Carson threw the knife at him. After Hernandez saw Carson no longer had the knife, he returned, and the two began fighting again.

A police officer arrived, and Hernandez and Carson voluntarily stopped fighting. Hernandez pointed at Carson, who had retrieved his knife, and Carson fled. The officer told Carson to drop the knife or he would shoot, and while Carson dropped the knife, he continued to run until he tripped on gravel and fell. When another police officer arrived to assist, Carson asked for an attorney.

Two doctors performed a psychological evaluation on Carson in May 2009. They both concluded Carson had a psychiatric disorder that substantially disturbed his thinking and rendered him incompetent to stand trial. However, due to Carson’s confused state, they were not able to determine whether Carson could appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions at the time he committed them.

A competency hearing found Carson was not competent to stand trial, and he was committed to Logansport State Mental Hospital. On Oct. 25, 2010, Logansport filed a report notifying the court that Carson was competent to stand trial.

The COA agreed that while Carson’s demeanor showed that he was mentally ill, statements he made at the time of his arrest indicated he was aware of the wrongfulness of his actions. He apologized, and he made comments that his actions were “stupid.”

Carson argued that his burglary conviction was not supported by evidence. But the COA wrote that Indiana Code 35-43-2-1 provides that a person who breaks and enters a dwelling of another person with intent to commit a felony in it commits Class B felony burglary. In statements to police, Carson said he had gone into Zuniga’s trailer to kill a baby but could not do it. That statement shows that he was able to appreciate the wrongfulness of the intent to commit murder, even though there was no baby in Zuniga’s home.



 

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  1. If real money was spent on this study, what a shame. And if some air-head professor tries to use this to advance a career, pity the poor student. I am approaching a time that i (and others around me) should be vigilant. I don't think I'm anywhere near there yet, but seeing the subject I was looking forward to something I might use to look for some benchmarks. When finally finding my way to the hidden questionnaire all I could say to myself was...what a joke. Those are open and obvious signs of any impaired lawyer (or non-lawyer, for that matter), And if one needs a checklist to discern those tell-tale signs of impairment at any age, one shouldn't be practicing law. Another reason I don't regret dropping my ABA membership some number of years ago.

  2. The case should have been spiked. Give the kid a break. He can serve and maybe die for Uncle Sam and can't have a drink? Wow. And they won't even let him defend himself. What a gross lack of prosecutorial oversight and judgment. WOW

  3. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  4. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  5. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

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