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Judges uphold admission of robbery confession

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A trial court did not err in admitting evidence of uncharged misconduct from another incident during a defendant’s trial for robbery, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday. The evidence contained a letter that helped corroborate the man’s confession to the robbery.

Michael Freed robbed a Village Pantry convenience store in Lafayette in July 2008. He got $115 from the cash register, and the act was caught on tape, but the tape didn’t catch Freed’s face because he was wearing a disguise. It did record his voice. Freed was later arrested on charges of burglary and forgery for breaking into a couple’s home and stealing a checkbook. While in jail on those charges, Freed decided to have someone murder the couple so they couldn’t testify at trial.

He wrote a letter requesting the murder and gave it to another inmate to pass along to a hit man. The letter also contained a sentence saying “Check for an unsolved VP robbery in July of 08 at Concord and brady ln.” This was the equivalent of a confession to the VP robbery.

The other inmate notified police, who interviewed Freed. Freed also told another inmate about details from the VP robbery. DNA collected from Freed couldn’t exclude him as a contributor to DNA found on the hat worn during the robbery. A police detective also identified Freed’s voice as matching the one on the tape.

At Freed’s trial for robbery and theft relating to the VP robbery, Freed’s jailhouse letter containing the confession was admitted and the two inmates testified. Freed was convicted of Class B felony robbery.

In Michael Freed v. State of Indiana, No. 79A02-1010-CR-1187, he challenged on appeal the admission of the letter which contained information on the burglary, forgery and solicitation charges stemming from the break-in at the couple’s home. The judges affirmed its admittance, finding the uncharged conduct was relevant for a purpose other than suggesting the propensity to commit robbery. The burglary, forgery and murder solicitation contextualized Freed’s jailhouse letter and made it more probable that the confession to the VP robbery was authored by him, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik.

While there was potential for prejudice, the judges found the probative value and need for the evidence was appreciable in the case. They noted that the trial court was conscientious in admonishing the jury that Freed’s uncharged misconduct – the burglary, forgery and murder solicitation charges – wasn’t admitted to demonstrate character or prove action in conformity therewith. There was also sufficient evidence to sustain his conviction, the appellate court ruled.

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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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