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Defendant received ineffective trial counsel assistance in murder case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of a Delaware County man’s post-conviction relief petition finding his trial attorney was ineffective in not ensuring the jury was properly instructed on the elements of murder, voluntary manslaughter and the state’s burden of proof regarding sudden heat.

James Roberson and Antron Young were at a Muncie nightclub in 2006 when Young exchanged angry words with Roberson and bumped and pushed him. The two had to be separated outside the club from fighting after the club closed at 3 a.m. When they both ended up at the same convenience store later that morning, Young punched Robinson in the face, leading Roberson to pull a gun and shoot at Young. Two bullets initially struck him and after he fell to the ground, Roberson fired more shots, telling him to “die.” Young died from the wounds.

Roberson was charged with murder, but claimed self defense. The trial court also gave instructions on voluntary manslaughter as a lesser included offense of murder, but not at the request of Roberson’s attorney. His attorney didn’t object to any of the instructions and Roberson was convicted as charged. His conviction was upheld on direct appeal, leading Roberson to file this petition for post-conviction relief.

In James Roberson v. State of Indiana, 18A02-1204-PC-306, Roberson claimed he received ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel with respect to not objecting to the content of the trial court’s instructions regarding voluntary manslaughter and not challenging them on direct appeal as fundamentally erroneous. His PCR petition was denied.

The appellate judges reversed, finding Roberson’s trial attorney was ineffective.

“The jury here was not properly instructed. In addition to the legally erroneous language of instruction 13, instruction 4, defining the elements of murder, makes no mention of the State’s burden to disprove the existence of sudden heat,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote.

“It was a clearly incorrect statement of the law to inform the jury that it could only consider convicting Roberson of voluntary manslaughter instead of murder if it first found him not guilty of murder, given that the jury instruction for murder did not inform the jury that the State had to disprove the existence of sudden heat.”

The case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.

 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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