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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. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  2. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

  3. Lets talk about this without forgetting that Lawyers, too, have FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION

  4. Baer filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit on April 30 2015. When will this be decided? How many more appeals does this guy have? Unbelievable this is dragging on like this.

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