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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. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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