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Court affirms man’s conviction of murder, feticide enhancement

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The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a defendant’s claim that the state should have to prove that he knew his estranged wife was pregnant when he killed her in order to seek a sentence enhancement under the Indiana feticide enhancement statute.

Tyler White and Amy Meyer had one son together while married. White was verbally abusive during their relationship, and they filed for divorce. They shared custody of their son, and the day before a provisional custody hearing, White shot Meyer twice, killing her. She was around three months pregnant at the time. The baby did not survive.

The state charged White with murder and sought an enhanced sentence under the feticide enhancement statute. White was found guilty of murder and in the second phase of trial, the jury found the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the murder caused the death of the baby. He was sentenced to a total of 70 years, which included the 10-year feticide enhancement.

In Tyler A. White v. State of Indiana, 90A04-1111-CR-621, White argued the court erred in finding certain testimony by witnesses as to what Meyer had told them about White admissible under Evidence Rule 804(b)(5), the “forfeiture by wrongdoing” hearsay exception; that the feticide enhancement statute is unconstitutional; and the trial court should have allowed him to enter evidence that Meyer previously had a miscarriage.

“We hold that the preponderance of the evidence supports a determination that White killed Amy to prevent her from testifying at the provisional custody hearing,” Judge Edward Najam wrote, which allows for the hearsay evidence to be admitted. “The fact that the conflict escalated one day before a custody hearing is substantial evidence of White’s intent when he shot Amy.”

The judges found the feticide enhancement statute is not unconstitutional as White argued because it doesn’t require proof that the person committing the murder had knowledge that the victim was pregnant or intended to end the pregnancy.

“Thus, the legislature’s intent on this issue is clear, and the State need not prove a defendant’s mens rea when it seeks a sentencing enhancement for feticide,” Najam wrote.

The appellate court also affirmed that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding evidence that Meyer previously suffered a miscarriage.

 

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  1. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  2. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  3. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  4. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  5. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

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