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COA orders reduced sentence in first impressions case

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In reversing a sentence for a serious violent felon, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that intending to commit a “crime of violence” is not, in itself, a crime of violence.

In Zarumin Coleman v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1101-CR-12, Zarumin Coleman appealed his 60-year sentence for one count of Class A felony conspiracy to commit robbery and one count of Class B felony possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.

Coleman argued that the sentence exceeded the maximum permissible for engaging in a single episode of criminal conduct. The appeals court examined Indiana Code Section 35-50-1-2(c), which states in part that the court may order sentences to be served consecutively, even if they are not imposed at the same time. But, the code section states: “However, except for crimes of violence, the total of the consecutive terms of imprisonment, exclusive of terms of imprisonment under IC 35-50-2-8 and IC 35-50-2-10, to which the defendant is sentenced for felony convictions arising out of an episode of criminal conduct shall not exceed the advisory sentence for a felony which is one (1) class of felony higher than the most serious of the felonies for which the person has been convicted.”

The appeals court considered whether felony conspiracy to commit robbery is a crime of violence, with respect to consecutive sentencing.

Coleman pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and firearm possession charges, following a botched robbery. Coleman had instructed his girlfriend to give a gun to one of the parties involved in the robbery attempt, and he drove the would-be robbers to a home that reportedly contained money and marijuana. Ronald Davis entered the home, and shot and killed two women and two children, using the gun Coleman’s girlfriend provided.

The appeals court held that despite the tragic events in the home, no evidence exists to suggest that Davis actually committed a robbery, as he fled without any property. It also concluded that intending to commit a crime of violence is not a crime of violence, and therefore, Coleman’s sentence was inappropriate.

“We are compelled to conclude a sentence of sixty years on convictions for Class A felony conspiracy to commit robbery and Class B felony possession of a firearm by a (serious violent felon) violate the single episode of criminal conduct rule for non-‘crimes of violence,’” the court wrote in its opinion.  

The court reversed and remanded for the trial court to resentence Coleman to a total term of 55 years. In accordance with Ind. Code Section 35-50-2-3(a), the 55-year term is the advisory sentence for murder, the next class of felony above Class A. The appeals court found that sentence to be appropriate, in light of the nature of the offenses and Coleman’s character, and refused to reduce it further to a term of 45 years.

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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