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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. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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