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Court orders re-trial after jury instruction error

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has ordered a re-trial for a man convicted of attempted murder after ruling today the trial court failed to properly instruct the jury on accomplice liability.

In Robert Tiller v. State of Indiana, No. 45A03-0802-CR-78, Robert Tiller was convicted of attempted murder, confinement, and escape after he and three others bound Richard Cannon, put him in the trunk of a car, and Louis James shot Cannon once in the face after opening the trunk.

Although he didn't object to the jury instructions on attempted murder and accomplice liability for attempted murder at trial, Tiller argued on appeal that the instructions constituted fundamental error. The trial court instruction correctly stated the law as it generally pertained to accomplice liability, but the instruction didn't adequately inform the jury that the specific intent requirement for attempted murder also applied to accomplice liability for attempted murder, wrote Judge Ezra Friedlander.

"We must therefore conclude, as did our Supreme Court in Hopkins, that the trial court's instruction on accomplice liability constituted fundamental error in that it failed to adequately instruct the jury that it was required to find that Tiller possessed the specific intent to kill Cannon when he aided, supported, helped, or assisted his accomplices commit the crime of attempted murder," wrote the judge.

There was sufficient evidence to support Tiller's conviction of attempted murder, so the appellate court remanded for a re-trial on the charge of attempted murder.

The Court of Appeals also found the state made a good faith effort and employed sufficient measures to find Cannon and secure his attendance at trial, so Tiller's Sixth Amendment right to confrontation wasn't violated when Cannon's disposition was read into evidence after he failed to appear to testify at Tiller's trial.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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