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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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