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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 will be filing a lawsuit in Tippecanoe County for so many violations in a case we became involved in, including failure to contact through mail, Violation of 4th Amendment rights, Violation of Civil Rights, and so on. Even the Indiana Ombudsmen Bureau found violations and I have now received the report and they are demanding further training in Tippecanoe County. I am going to make sure they follow through!!!

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  3. I thought the purpose of the criminal justice center was to consolidate all the criminal services and get them out of downtown to clean up the place. Why in the HELL are the civil courts moving? What a burden to all the downtown law firms. Now we all get to work downtown, but then have to get in a car and COMMUTE to court? Who approved this idiocy?

  4. I drive through the neighborhood whenever I go to the City-County Building or the Federal Courthouse. The surrounding streets are all two way with only two lanes of traffic, and traffic is very slow during rush hour. I hope that enough money has been allocated to allow for improvement of the surrounding streets.

  5. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

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