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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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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