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DNA in glove at scene sufficient to uphold burglary conviction

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The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated a conviction vacated by the Indiana Court of Appeals. The high court unanimously affirmed a conviction of Class C felony burglary with a habitual offender enhancement, finding a glove at the crime scene with the suspect’s DNA was sufficient for a jury to determine guilt.

In Martin Meehan v. State of Indiana, 71S04-1308-CR-535, Meehan was convicted in St. Joseph Superior Court of breaking into a mechanical contracting business. An employee called police after seeing obvious signs of forced entry, and when police arrived they found a glove on the floor inside the business. The employee testified that the glove wasn’t there when he locked up the previous day, and testing revealed the glove contained only DNA that matched Meehan.

When the Court of Appeals reversed, it held that affirming the conviction “would be creating a precedent that would make it relatively easy for criminals to frame other individuals; all they would need to do is obtain an object with someone else’s DNA and leave it at the crime scene.”

“Here is where we disagree,” Justice Steven David wrote for the unanimous Supreme Court. “The existence of the possibility of being 'framed' does not amount to a lack of substantial evidence of probative value from which the jury could reasonably infer that Meehan committed the burglary.

“Because there was substantial evidence of probative value from which the jury could reasonably infer that Meehan was guilty of burglary beyond a reasonable doubt, we will not disturb the jury’s verdict,” David wrote. The case was remanded to the trial court, however, with instructions to order a prohibited consecutive habitual offender enhancement instead be served concurrent with a prior such enhancement.   







 

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