ILNews

Court erred in admitting child's videotaped statement

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A trial court improperly allowed a videotaped statement by a victim of child molesting into evidence instead of having the child participate in live direct examination, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today in its reversal of a man’s molesting convictions.

Larry Cox appealed his convictions of 10 counts of Class A felony child molesting and five counts of Class C felony child molesting. The son of Cox’s ex-girlfriend claimed Cox had molested him. The son, D.H., was interviewed by the Tippecanoe County Prosecutor’s Office, and the interview was videotaped. The state was allowed to introduce the videotape into evidence, over Cox’s objection, instead of questioning D.H. on direct examination. He was subject to cross-examination.

Admitting the videotaped interview was an error, the appellate court concluded after examining the Protected Person Statute and Tyler v. State, 903 N.E.2d 463 (Ind. 2009). In Tyler, the Indiana Supreme Court held that testimony of a protected person may be presented in court or by pre-recorded statement through the PPS but not both except as authorized by the Indiana Rules of Evidence.

The state and trial court thought they were complying with Tyler by not allowing D.H. to give direct testimony on the stand and letting him be cross-examined, but that violated the spirit and general principles announced in Tyler, wrote Judge Michael Barnes in Larry Cox v. State of Indiana,  No. 79A04-0912-CR-741.

The Tyler court emphasized that a videotaped interview should only be introduced after considering if the child will be traumatized by testifying in open court. It found that if a child is sufficiently mature to testify in open court, then there is no need to resort to the Protected Person Statute.

“Of course, the procedure employed by the trial court here did not raise the specter of unfairly prejudicial cumulative evidence bolstering the in-court testimony of an alleged molestation victim,” wrote the judge. “Still, our system of justice clearly prefers live, in-court testimony given under oath, as evidenced in part by the Confrontation Clause and the hearsay rule.”

The appellate court found the introduction of the videotape to be a reversible error because there was no trial testimony regarding the charged crimes and any statement D.H. made on the stand wasn’t made under any kind of oath.

They also held that Cox may be retried and remanded for further proceedings.
 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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