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COA reaffirms separate convictions for check theft not warranted

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The Indiana Court of Appeals granted the state’s petition for rehearing in a case in which the defendant stole checks from a man’s mailbox, but affirmed its original decision that the taking of the checks and what the defendant did with them constituted a single continuing act of theft.

In April,  the COA reversed several of Sterlen Shane Keller’s theft convictions based on the single larceny rule. He had in his possession a Social Security check and Edward Jones checks that belonged to Robert Collier. He took the checks from Collier’s mailbox on one occasion.

The state argued that Keller made an independent decision to exert control over the three Edward Jones checks by cashing them, which is separate from his taking of the Social Security check from the mailbox.

“Contrary to the State’s assertion, we cannot disregard Keller’s act of taking the checks from the mailbox because that is the point at which Keller began knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over them with the intent to deprive Collier of their value or use,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote in Sterlen Shane Keller v. State of Indiana, 59A01-1206-CR-271.

“Regardless of what Keller did with the checks after he took them — whether he put them in his garage or cashed them — he committed the offense when he took the checks from Collier’s mailbox and from that point on he committed a single continuing act of theft.”

The judges also weren’t persuaded by the state’s argument that its earlier holding disserves the purpose of the single larceny rule: to punish a single criminal design only once.

“To the extent that Keller’s subsequent decision to cash some of the checks he had taken evidenced an additional criminal design, the State could have charged him with the theft of those funds (as opposed to theft of the checks), forgery, or any other applicable offense,” Barnes wrote. “The State’s decision not to charge Keller for the act of cashing the checks further underscores the importance of the charging documents and its contents.”

 

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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