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COA reverses predator's lifetime registration

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Court of Appeals upheld a defendant's convictions and sentence for multiple sexual offenses but reversed the trial court's determination he is a sexually violent predator requiring lifetime registration, citing the statute that was in place during the time the crime happened should dictate the defendant's predator status.

In Anthony Thompson v. State of Indiana, 03A01-0610-CR-430, Thompson appealed his convictions and sentence of 63 years for sexual offenses against the victim, as well as his status as a lifetime sexually violent predator.

Thompson argued prosecutorial misconduct happened during his trial when the prosecutor told the court information beyond what the pre-sentence report stated. The prosecutor said Thompson attempted to set his own family's home on fire, but the attempted arson actually happened to the three cars parked in the driveway. When discussing Thompson's 2002 arson charge, the prosecutor said he set fire to the home in which he was living. Thompson claimed there was nothing showing that incident was anything more than negligence.

These statements by the prosecutor happened during arguments and were not presented as evidence, so they could not influence the jury, wrote Senior Judge Patrick Sullivan in the opinion. The court concluded there is no basis for reversal of Thompson's sentence based on the prosecutor's comments.

The court also found his sentences to be appropriate given the nature of the offense and Thompson's character. He bound, abducted, and sexually assaulted the 15-year-old sister of his girlfriend and threatened to kill her if she told anyone.

The appeals court did reverse the trial court's determination that Thompson is a sexually violent predator who is required to be registered for life. Thompson committed the crimes in February 2005 but was not sentenced until September 2006. The Indiana General Assembly amended the statute effective July 1, 2006, and the court concluded the new law requiring lifetime registration could not be applied to Thompson.

Thompson was appropriately determined to be a sexually violent predator under the previous statute, Indiana Code 5-2-12-13, which would require him to register for an indefinite period and allow for a board of experts to determine if a person could no longer be considered a sexually violent predator. However, the trial court followed the new statute 11-8-8-19, requiring he register for life.

The court reversed the sexually violent predator determination requiring him to register for life because the requirement runs "afoul of ex post facto considerations," Senior Judge Sullivan wrote.

The court remanded with instructions to amend the registration requirement to be for an indefinite period subject to the right of Thompson to seek a determination in the future that he is no longer a sexually violent predator.
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