ILNews

Court revises sentence to fix double jeopardy issue

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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Appellate courts must frequently address claims from convicted criminals that counsel was ineffective, sentences are unreasonable, or that the charges violate double jeopardy.

Rarely does the state concede that convictions violate double jeopardy principles, as happened in a case decided Tuesday by the Indiana Supreme Court.

In Chad E. Strong v. State of Indiana, No. 20S03-0612-CR-529, the Indiana Attorney General's Office acknowledged the defendant's claim that two convictions - one for murder and another for neglect of a dependent resulting in the same child's death - violate the hallmark legal principle preventing a person from being charged twice for the same offense.

Strong was convicted of murder in the death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter and also of a Class A felony of neglect of a dependent in connection with the child's death. He received consecutive terms of 65 years for murder and 55 years for the neglect felony. On direct appeal he raised issues of prosecutorial misconduct, evidence admission, sentence appropriateness, and double jeopardy. The Court of Appeals rejected all the claims except the last, remanding with instruction to reduce the conviction to a lower Class B felony and impose 20 years consecutive to the murder sentence. Strong argued this doesn't cure the double jeopardy problem, while the state disagreed.

"Such a recharacterization of the charges, however, does not eliminate the fact that both charged offenses would still be based on the same bodily injury," Justice Brent Dickson wrote in the unanimous four-page opinion. "Only when deemed a Class D offense, which does not include any element of bodily injury, does the conviction of neglect of a dependent satisfy the common law/statutory construction aspect of Indiana's double jeopardy jurisprudence."

The high court affirmed the murder conviction and sentence, but remanded to the trial court with instructions to reduce the conviction from a Class A to a D felony and revise the sentence to three years served consecutive to the murder sentence.
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  1. Joseph Buser, Montgomery County Chief Prosecutor, has been involved in both representing the State of Indiana as Prosecutor while filing as Representing Attorney on behalf of himself and the State of Indiana in Civil Proceedings for seized cash and merchandise using a Verified Complaint For Forfeiture of Motor Vehicle, Us Currency And Reimbursement Of Costs, as is evident in Montgomery County Circuit Court Case Number 54C01-1401-MI-000018, CCS below, seen before Judge Harry Siamas, and filed on 01/13/2014. Sheriff Mark Castille is also named. All three defendants named by summons have prior convictions under Mr. Buser, which as the Indiana Supreme Court, in the opinion of The Matter of Mark R. McKinney, No. 18S00-0905-DI-220, stated that McKinney created a conflict of interest by simultaneously prosecuting drug offender cases while pocketing assets seized from defendants in those cases. All moneys that come from forfeitures MUST go to the COMMON SCHOOL FUND.

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  4. Oh, and you fail to mention that you deprived the father of far FAR more time than he ever did you, even requiring officers to escort the children back into his care. Please, can you see that you had a huge part in "starting the war?" Patricia, i can't understand how painfully heartbreak ithis ordeal must have been for you. I read the appellate case and was surprised to see both sides of the story because your actions were harmful to your child; more so than the fathers. The evidence wasn't re weighed. It was properly reviewed for abuse of discretion as the trial court didn't consider whether a change of circumstance occurred or follow and define the statutes that led to their decision. Allowing a child to call a boyfriend "daddy" and the father by his first name is unacceptable. The first time custody was reversed to father was for very good reason. Self reflection in how you ultimately lost primary custody is the only way you will be able heal and move forward. Forgiveness of yourself comes after recognition and I truly hope you can get past the hurt and pain to allow your child the stability and care you recognized yourself that the father provides.

  5. Patricia, i can't understand how painfully heartbreak ithis ordeal must have been for you. I read the appellate case and was surprised to see both sides of the story because your actions were harmful to your child; more so than the fathers. The evidence wasn't re weighed. It was properly reviewed for abuse of discretion as the trial court didn't consider whether a change of circumstance occurred or follow and define the statutes that led to their decision. Allowing a child to call a boyfriend "daddy" and the father by his first name is unacceptable. The first time custody was reversed to father was for very good reason. Self reflection in how you ultimately lost primary custody is the only way you will be able heal and move forward. Forgiveness of yourself comes after recognition and I truly hope you can get past the hurt and pain to allow your child the stability and care you recognized yourself that the father provides.

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