ILNews

COA orders retrial in self-defense case

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Court of Appeals determined a Marion County judge wrongly excluded evidence corroborating an Indianapolis man's self-defense claim and has ordered a new trial on a voluntary-manslaughter charge.

In Terrance Hood v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0703-CR-242, the appellate court reversed and remanded to Marion Superior Judge Tanya Walton Pratt's courtroom a case involving an August 2005 shooting outside a liquor store.

As Hood exited the store, a vehicle nearly crashed into him and he got into an argument with the driver. That intoxicated driver approached Hood, who reached into his minivan, pulled out a gun, and shot him six times before driving from the scene. The man later died, and Hood was eventually convicted of voluntary manslaughter and carrying a handgun without a license after a previous conviction. He received a 46-year sentence.

A key of the appeal was Hood's contention regarding excluded testimony about the driver possibly reaching for a gun at his waistline, and being drunk and "a little aggressive." The appellate court relied on a previous ruling in Brand v. State, 766 N.E.2d 772 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002) that the concept of evidentiary relevance is broad in a self-defense case, and here the trial court should have allowed it.

The testimony "would lend substantial credibility to Hood's assertions" that he acted in self-defense, Judge Mark Bailey wrote, adding that the court declines the state's invitation to apply the harmless error doctrine.

Hood also appealed the sentence, but in reversing this for a new trial, the court declined to address that issue.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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