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COA vacates conviction on double jeopardy grounds

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that a man who helped participate in a robbery that left the victim blind must be cleared of a criminal confinement conviction because the same evidence may have been used to convict him on another charge.

In Carlton Wright v. State of Indiana, No. 10A01-1009-CR-517, Carlton Wright appealed his convictions of Class A felony robbery and Class D felony criminal confinement, and claimed his sentence is inappropriate. The court held that the aggregate sentence of 50 years – the maximum sentence for his robbery conviction – was not inappropriate, given Wright’s criminal background and events surrounding the crime that reflect poorly on his character.

On December 24, 2009, Reinaldo Santiago encountered Wright and Kianna Ball at a Clarksville hotel. Santiago agreed to give the two a ride. After stopping to buy alcohol and withdraw cash from an automatic teller machine, Santiago – who spoke little English – drove Wright and Ball to a friend’s house to find someone to serve as translator.

When Santiago parked his van at his friend’s house, Ball pulled out a gun and pointed it at Santiago’s head, and Wright grabbed him to prevent him from moving. Wright then got out of the passenger seat and walked around to the driver’s side. Ball shot Santiago in the head, and Wright pulled him from the van, took the driver’s seat and drove away. Witnesses obtained medical assistance for Santiago, who was permanently blinded due to his injuries.

Police apprehended Wright later, shooting him in the buttock as he attempted to flee. The state charged Wright with robbery, resisting law enforcement, and criminal confinement as a Class B felony. The jury found Wright guilty of robbery and resisting law enforcement as charged, but convicted him of criminal confinement as a Class D felony.

The appeals court cited the state’s closing remarks at trial as support for Wright’s argument that the jury could reasonably infer that the same force he used to confine Santiago could also be the same force used in committing the robbery. The appeals court therefore remanded to the trial court to vacate the conviction for criminal confinement, citing Indiana’s double jeopardy standards. Wright did not appeal his convictions on other charges, but argued his sentence was inappropriate, as he was an accomplice to the shooting.

Citing Merriweather v. State, 778 N.E.2d 449, 458-59 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002), the appeals court ruled that a defendant is criminally liable for the use of a weapon by an accomplice, even if the defendant was not armed. The court held that Wright made no effort to protest Ball shooting Santiago, and that he did not seek medical treatment for the victim, or cooperate with police.

Wright was initially sentenced to serve his conviction for criminal confinement concurrently with the robbery sentence, so the court’s reversal of the criminal confinement conviction does not affect Wright’s overall incarceration.

 

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  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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