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Court affirms murder conviction of man who killed stepdaughter

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A southern Indiana man was not able to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that the court should overturn his convictions of murder and other charges for stabbing his stepdaughter.

Ryan Shelby raised six issues on appeal, including that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his request to view the murder scene and independently collect evidence without supervision and that the cumulative effect of several alleged errors required reversal. He sought to overturn his convictions of murder, Class D felony obstruction of justice and two counts of Class A misdemeanor false informing.

Shelby and his teenage stepdaughter Lexi got into an argument late in the evening Oct. 31, 2009, over why Shelby didn’t bring Lexi’s half-sister home from his parents' home. The two had a history of not getting along. Lexi came at Shelby with a knife, after which Shelby disarmed her and then repeatedly stabbed her in the throat and neck. He dragged her behind their home’s backyard shed, where she bled to death.

The judges found the trial court didn’t abuse its discretion in denying Shelby’s motion to view the crime scene because it allowed him supervised access to the scene and allowed his defense to consult outside of the presence of the state. The order also allowed him to collect evidence.

The COA found he waived several claims on appeal, including claims that the trial court erred in failing to give certain jury instructions that he tendered, which combined with other alleged errors, should result in his convictions being overturned. He also waived his claims of prosecutorial misconduct by not moving for a mistrial or admonishment at trial. The judges also held that the fundamental error exception doesn’t apply, and they found no cumulative error.

“The trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting Shelby’s statements to the police. And to the extent that the trial court erred in limiting the testimony of Shelby’s expert witness, the error was harmless in light of the testimony that was presented by the witness,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote in the 42-page opinion Ryan Shelby v. State of Indiana, 87A01-1207-CR-313.

“Lastly, even if the trial court did abuse its discretion in failing to consider Shelby’s proffered mitigator of ‘residual doubt,’ we would not remand for resentencing because Shelby’s advisory sentence of fifty-five years for the brutal murder of his stepdaughter is not inappropriate.”

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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