ILNews

Judges revise murder sentence

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The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the murder conviction of a defendant who killed a Bloomington man in response to a sexual assault, but found the circumstances around the killing warranted a lesser sentence.

In Michael J. Griffin v. State of Indiana, No. 53A05-1106-CR-288, Michael Griffin challenged his murder conviction and 55-year sentence for the stabbing death of Donald Belton. While at a Christmas party, the two were drinking and Belton allegedly sexually assault Griffin while he was intoxicated. Two days later, Griffin went to Belton’s house to confront him about the encounter and ended up stabbing Belton 21 times and sliced his throat.

Griffin asked the trial court to give a jury instruction on reckless homicide; it refused and only instructed the jury on voluntary manslaughter and murder.

Griffin argued on appeal that the state failed to negate the presence of sudden heat which, if found by the jury, would have reduced his murder conviction to voluntary manslaughter. But the evidence produced by the state negates Griffin’s claim that he was acting in sudden heat when he killed Belton, wrote Judge L. Mark Bailey.

He also argued that the jury could have found that he recklessly killed Belton but did not knowingly do so. The evidence shows that Griffin stabbed Belton 21 times and slashed his throat. He did not attempt to get help for Belton and fled from the scene. The nature of his conduct shows Griffin had to have some awareness his actions could result in Belton’s death, wrote the judge.

The appellate court decided to revise his sentence to 45 years given that the pervasive evidence is that the homicide was in response to a sexual assault, Griffin has no criminal history, and he received an honorable discharge and Purple Heart from the Marine Corps. They sent the case back to the trial court for resentencing.

 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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