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. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues