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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. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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