Court reverses several theft convictions under single larceny rule

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An Orange County man who stole items from a deceased man’s home and sold them had multiple convictions overturned by the Indiana Court of Appeals, including several theft convictions and failure to report a dead body.

In Sterlen Shane Keller v. State of Indiana, 59A01-1206-CR-271, Sterlen Shane Keller appealed his convictions and sentences for Class D felony auto theft, Class B felony burglary, nine counts of Class D felony theft, and Class A misdemeanor failure to report a dead body. He raised multiple issues: whether the trial court properly allowed the state to amend the charging information; whether he was denied his right to a speedy trial; whether his statements to police were properly admitted into evidence; whether the jury was properly instructed; whether there is sufficient evidence to support his convictions; whether his theft convictions violate the single larceny rule or the continuing crime doctrine; and whether he was properly sentenced.

Keller had approached 79-year-old Robert Collier on his farm about selling some of his old farm equipment to Keller for scrap. Collier initially declined Keller’s offer. A few months later, Keller’s stepfather became suspicious when he saw Keller driving a GMC truck. Police discovered the truck belonged to Collier and conducted a welfare check. Collier’s body was found on the property and had decomposed badly.

Keller sold items of Collier’s to a salvage yard on 14 occasions. These include an Oldsmobile, a farm truck, and a tractor. Police also found Collier’s possessions in Keller’s garage, including rings, blank checks, and a Social Security check made out to Collier.

The judges affirmed in part and reversed in part Keller’s convictions.

“Keller waived his right to challenge the State’s amendment of the charging information. He has not shown that his right to a speedy trial was violated, that the admission of his statements to police was improper, or that the trial court abused its discretion in instructing the jury. Pursuant to the single larceny rule, the convictions for theft of the Social Security check and for theft of the two rings must be vacated. Although there is sufficient evidence to support the auto theft, theft, and burglary convictions, there is insufficient evidence to support the failure to report a dead body conviction as charged by the State. Keller’s modified sentence of twenty-nine years does not violate the statutory limit on consecutive sentences, and he has not shown that his sentence is inappropriate,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote.

They remanded for further proceedings.



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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.