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High court reverses habitual offender enhancement

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Because the state didn’t offer allowable evidence of a man’s previous theft conviction to support a habitual offender enhancement, the Indiana Supreme Court reversed the enhancement.

In Thomas Dexter v. State of Indiana, No. 79S05-1106-CR-367, Thomas Dexter challenged his conviction of Class A felony neglect of a dependent resulting in death of the dependent and the jury finding that he is a habitual offender. He was sentenced to 30 years for the Class A felony, which was enhanced by 30 years based on his habitual offender status. Five years of his sentence were suspended to probation.

To prove Dexter had been previously convicted of two unrelated felonies – a felony theft conviction in 2000 and felony theft and residential entry convictions in 2005 – the state used a copy of the order entering judgment of conviction in the 2000 case that was not signed by the trial judge. The state also used a “rules of probation” form, the presentence investigation from the 2005 conviction and the testimony of a probation officer. Dexter claimed this was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of the 2000 theft conviction.

The justices found that the documentary evidence presented by the state was not sufficient to establish the fact of the alleged 2000 conviction.

“In view of our insistence that proper documentary evidence be submitted to prove the existence of a prior conviction and the important rationale underlying that rule, we hold that a judgment must be signed by the trial judge to constitute substantial evidence of probative value sufficient to sustain a habitual-offender enhancement. Accordingly, the unsigned order of judgment was not probative of the fact of Dexter’s alleged theft conviction in 2000,” wrote Justice Frank Sullivan.

The high court also found that the “rules of probation” form, a presentence investigation report filed prior to sentencing on the 2005 convictions and the testimony of the chief probation officer for Tippecanoe County cannot support the habitual offender finding. But, double jeopardy principles do not preclude the state from retrying Dexter on the enhancement, the justices held.

 

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  1. The is an unsigned editorial masquerading as a news story. Almost everyone quoted was biased in favor of letting all illegal immigrants remain in the U.S. (Ignoring that Obama deported 3.5 million in 8 years). For some reason Obama enforcing part of the immigration laws was O.K. but Trump enforcing additional parts is terrible. I have listed to press conferences and explanations of the Homeland Security memos and I gather from them that less than 1 million will be targeted for deportation, the "dreamers" will be left alone and illegals arriving in the last two years -- especially those arriving very recently -- will be subject to deportation but after the criminals. This will not substantially affect the GDP negatively, especially as it will take place over a number of years. I personally think this is a rational approach to the illegal immigration problem. It may cause Congress to finally pass new immigration laws rationalizing the whole immigration situation.

  2. Mr. Straw, I hope you prevail in the fight. Please show us fellow American's that there is a way to fight the corrupted justice system and make them an example that you and others will not be treated unfairly. I hope you the best and good luck....

  3. @ President Snow - Nah, why try to fix something that ain't broken??? You do make an excellent point. I am sure some Mickey or Minnie Mouse will take Ruckers seat, I wonder how his retirement planning is coming along???

  4. Can someone please explain why Judge Barnes, Judge Mathias and Chief Judge Vaidik thought it was OK to re weigh the evidence blatantly knowing that by doing so was against the rules and went ahead and voted in favor of the father? I would love to ask them WHY??? I would also like to ask the three Supreme Justices why they thought it was OK too.

  5. How nice, on the day of my car accident on the way to work at the Indiana Supreme Court. Unlike the others, I did not steal any money or do ANYTHING unethical whatsoever. I am suing the Indiana Supreme Court and appealed the failure of the district court in SDIN to protect me. I am suing the federal judge because she failed to protect me and her abandonment of jurisdiction leaves her open to lawsuits because she stripped herself of immunity. I am a candidate for Indiana Supreme Court justice, and they imposed just enough sanction so that I am made ineligible. I am asking the 7th Circuit to remove all of them and appoint me as the new Chief Justice of Indiana. That's what they get for dishonoring my sacrifice and and violating the ADA in about 50 different ways.

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