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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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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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