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Judges reduce rapist’s sentence to 165 years

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The Indiana Court of Appeals Wednesday slashed 105 years from a convicted rapist’s sentence, concluding the original 270-year sentence was far outside the norm for a single episode of conduct against a single victim.

Shawn Corbally broke into a Greenwood woman’s apartment in July 2012 and forced M.R. to engage in numerous sexual acts for two hours while making threats to harm her or her children, who were in the apartment. Her 1-year-old child was asleep in the bed with her when Corbally began assaulting the woman. She was able to identify Corbally because she saw his tattoo on his left arm depicting bricks. She also saw he was wearing cargo shorts and was able to see his face when he led her outside.

Police recovered his and M.R.’s DNA on the camouflage shorts they found in Corbally’s duffle bag. He was convicted of Class A felony burglary, Class A felony rape, four counts of Class A felony criminal deviate conduct, and two counts of Class B felony criminal confinement. He was sentenced to 270 years.

Corbally appealed in Shawn Lawrence Corbally v. State of Indiana, 41A04-1304-CR-175, on two grounds: that the trial court improperly allowed Greenwood Police Department investigator Patti Cummings to relate the contents of her interview with the victim, and that his sentence is inappropriate.

Cummings testified as to what M.R. had told her about the attack during an interview conducted the day after it occurred. Corbally’s attorney objected, arguing the state was asking Cummings to relate hearsay, but withdrew the objection after she told the court she could not stipulate to M.R.’s credibility.

The trial court erred in telling Corbally’s attorney that any challenge to M.R.’s credibility allowed the state to introduce prior consistent statements by her, the Court of Appeals held. The judges were skeptical of the state’s argument that Cummings’ testimony should be allowed because it was in some way related to the course of investigation work that led to Corbally’s arrest.

“Cummings almost completely rehashed the grisly details of the crimes as already testified to by M.R. Such evidence was entirely irrelevant to the course of the investigation, and it was not admissible as ‘course-of-investigation’ evidence. The trial court abused its discretion in admitting this evidence,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote.

But, this admission was a harmless error, the judges ruled, as there is overwhelming independent evidence of Corbally’s guilt.

Barnes and Judge Elaine Brown chose to reduce Corbally’s sentence after looking at other cases involving similar circumstances. Barnes noted that the longest affirmed sentence imposed for a single episode of sexual violence against one victim was 151 years since the adoption of the “inappropriate” standard for reviewing sentences. The majority decided to reduce his sentence to an aggregate of 165 years after concluding his 270-year sentence is an “outlier” in need of revision.

Judge Margret Robb dissented without opinion regarding the sentencing issue.
 

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  • Really?
    Horrible crime . . . but, really? Is there a realistic difference between 270 years and 105 years here that requires the appellate court's time and effort? Assuming the evildoer is not Methuzulla (sp), I assume a 105 year sentence will do to keep him in prison for life . . . but so would a 270 year sentence. So why bother?

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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