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COA finds no error in Class A felony attempted robbery conviction

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After determining it had jurisdiction over a defendant’s appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction of Class A felony attempted robbery instead of a lesser-included offense.

In James Denning v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1208-CR-394, the appellate court was first tasked with deciding whether it had jurisdiction to consider James Denning’s appeal because he filed his notice of appeal before the trial court decided the issue of restitution. Denning was charged with and convicted of Class A felony attempted robbery for shooting Derek Schaffer while the two went to look at a place Schaffer wanted to rent. The state sought restitution, but was awaiting medical bills from Schaffer. The trial court said it would leave restitution open, but the final written sentencing order did not mention restitution.

“We have jurisdiction, as the trial court found Denning guilty and entered a judgment of conviction. The trial court, despite its oral statement it would ‘leave restitution open,’ entered a final sentencing order that did not impose restitution. Under those circumstances, we will not deprive Denning of his day in court based solely on a statement made during a hearing,” Judge Melissa May wrote.

The judges rejected Denning’s claim that there was insufficient evidence to convict him because Shaffer’s testimony was incredibly dubious.

“We decline to hold a witness’ statements are necessarily ‘incredibly dubious’ just because the witness is ‘evasive,’ ‘not forthcoming,’ or ‘reluctant’ to reveal information, especially where, as here, the challenged information has no apparent relevance to the elements of the offense with which the defendant was charged. Nor will we hold a statement is, regardless of its content, ‘incredibly dubious’ just because it is ‘squirrely,’” May said, referring to the trial court’s characterization of Schaffer’s version of the events as “squirrely and evasive.”

The COA also upheld the Class A felony conviction instead of a lesser Class C felony offense. Denning had a bench trial and “we presume that a trial court knows the law in Indiana,” May said. The state chose to charge him with Class A felony attempted robbery, and the state provided ample evidence to support that conviction.

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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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