ILNews

Court: delayed rape conviction OK

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a defendant's rape conviction, finding his due process rights weren't violated when charges were filed in 2005 for a rape that happened nearly 25 years earlier.

In Thomas N. Schiro v. State of Indiana, No. 10A01-0701-CR-21, Thomas Schiro appealed his conviction of felony rape, arguing the trial court erred by denying his motion to dismiss the charges brought against him in 2005 for two rapes that occurred in 1980 and by admitting his written sexual autobiography and a photograph of his victim with her disabled daughter.

Schiro was in prison in 2005 when the state filed rape charges against him, alleging he had committed two rapes in late 1980. Schiro was in prison following his conviction for felony murder of an Evansville woman in February 1981. He was originally sentenced to death, which is why the state failed to file the rape charges against him for the two rapes in which both women at the time identified Schiro as their attacker. However, the Indiana Supreme Court set aside his death sentence in 1996 and imposed a 60-year sentence instead.

The state reopened the investigation into the rapes in 1997 but couldn't locate L.S., one of the victims. The state also had trouble finding Schiro's former girlfriend, who they believed was a key prosecution witness. Eventually, G.G., the other victim, L.S., and Schiro's ex-girlfriend were all found by 2005. The state charged Schiro with felony rape and felony criminal deviate conduct against both G.G. and L.S. Schiro filed motions to dismiss the charges, which the trial court denied.

The state also allowed portions of Schiro's sexual "autobiography" - written during a mental evaluation prior to his murder trial - which chronicled rapes, sexual assaults, and other crimes into evidence, as well as a photograph of L.S. with her disabled child. Schiro was found guilty on the charges committed against L.S., but not G.G. He was sentenced only on the rape charge because the statute of limitations had run out on the criminal deviate conduct charge. The trial court imposed a 40-year sentence.

On appeal, Schiro failed to show the state's delay in filing the charges was inexcusable. It would have been a waste of taxpayer money to prosecute him for the G.G. and L.S. rape cases while Schiro was in prison on a death sentence. Once his sentence was reduced, the prosecution opened the case and waited until they had both victims and a key witness before proceeding with the charges, wrote Judge James Kirsch.

"Schiro has failed to establish that the evidence is without conflict and leads inescapably to the conclusion that he is entitled to a dismissal. Consequently, we find no trial court error in its decision to deny Schiro's motion to dismiss on the basis of prosecutorial vindictiveness," he wrote.

In regards to the admission of Schiro's sexual autobiography, the Court of Appeals concluded the probative value of the statements wasn't substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, so there was no error in admitting portions of the text. The trial court also didn't err in admitting the photograph of L.S. with her disabled daughter because L.S. had already testified that her daughter was at home at the time of the attack and had cerebral palsy. Even if the state excluded the photograph, there was enough evidence from which the jury could reasonably infer Schiro's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the judge wrote.
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  1. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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