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COA upholds 125-year child-molesting sentence

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In upholding multiple child-molesting convictions and a 125-year sentence, the Indiana Court of Appeals has rejected a woman’s argument about why her penalty should be reduced based in part on the very young ages of the victims.

The state’s second highest appellate court issued a decision today in Samantha Light v. State of Indiana, No. 23A01-0912-CR-600, which comes from Fountain Circuit Court and involves facts that the authoring appellate judge describes as “especially repugnant.”

Late last year, the 26-year-old Light pleaded guilty to three counts of Class A felony child molesting. In September 2008, Light and her boyfriend, 31-year-old Stephen Quick II, had engaged in and videotaped various sexual acts with a 6-year-old boy, 1-year-old boy, and 2-month-old girl, according to the court opinion. The couple was arrested and charged in March 2009, and Light later entered into a plea agreement dismissing two other felony child-exploitation counts.

Prosecutors agreed not to make any sentencing recommendations to the trial court. At sentencing, Fountain Circuit Judge Susan Orr Henderson imposed a total 125-year-sentence for Light. Quick received the same sentence on those three charges in March, and his appeal is now pending before the Indiana Court of Appeals.

In arguing for a sentence reduction, Light contends that her sentence is inappropriate in light of her character and the nature of her offenses. With a forceful and descriptive eight-page ruling, the appellate panel rejected her challenges and affirmed the lower judge’s decision.

“Light concedes that her offenses are shocking in nature but suggests that the young age of the victims, who perhaps will not remember the events and may thereafter suffer less psychological trauma, ameliorates the grave nature of her offenses,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote for the unanimous panel, pointing out that the then-6-year-old does remember the events. “In any event, we are unpursuaded that forced group sexual activity with young children and infants, by their own caretaker and/or mother, is somehow less depraved if the victims do not recall each excruciating detail for the rest of their lives. To the contrary, the young age of the victims, whose youth and vulnerability made them easy prey, highlights the depravity of Light’s offenses and her lack of character in willingly engaging in such unthinkable acts.”

The court also dismissed her claims about remorse and clean criminal history being factors to consider reducing the sentence, as well as her argument that her willingness to plead guilty helped redeem her character.

Pointing to Indiana Supreme Court precedent in which the justices have reduced sentences in certain cases where multiple molestation convictions led to particularly lengthy terms, the appellate panel said this case is easily distinguishable and doesn’t warrant a reduction.

“Indeed, given the circumstances of Light’s crimes, her 125-year sentence is fully within the navigational buoys of that body of law,” Judge Bradford wrote.
 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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