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Indiana Supreme Court upholds death sentence

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The Indiana Supreme Court has declined to grant a twice-convicted death row inmate’s request for a new trial, upholding his convictions and penalty for murders that go back more than a decade.

Justices issued a unanimous decision today in Wayne D. Kubsch v. State of Indiana, No. 71S00-0708-PD-335, affirming a post-conviction relief denial from St. Joseph Superior Judge Jane Woodward Miller.

Charged in 1998 with murdering his wife, her ex-husband, and her 11-year-old son, Kubsch was first convicted and sentenced to death in 2000, but that was reversed on appeal. A second trial resulting in his conviction and death sentence came in 2005, and the Supreme Court upheld that on direct appeal in 2007.

Kubsch sought a third trial on claims that the judge shouldn’t have allowed hearsay testimony – about him bragging while in the in the county jail about killing a child, and that an insurance official’s testimony that the company didn’t pay out benefits for his wife’s death – was improper.

The Supreme Court heard arguments Dec. 22, 2009.

Justice Robert D. Rucker wrote the unanimous opinion, which not only delved into the testimony issues but also addressed other matters such as ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, and other evidentiary errors at trial. Nine of the issues were waived because they were known and available at the time of Kubsch’s direct appeal, Justice Rucker wrote, and another three issues are barred because of the doctrine of res judicata.

 

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