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Justices affirm denial of killer’s post-conviction relief

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A man originally sentenced to die for the 2006 murders of a mother and her 8- and 13-year-old daughters will continue to serve his converted sentence of life without parole after the Indiana Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon affirmed a trial court’s denial of post-conviction relief.

Daniel Ray Wilkes’ death penalty had been upheld by the state Supreme Court in 2009, but a post-conviction relief court modified the sentence imposed in Clark Circuit Court for the slayings of Donna Claspell, Sydne Claspell, 8, and Avery Pike, 13.

In Daniel Ray Wilkes v. State of Indiana, 10S00-1004-PD-185, justices unanimously rejected Wilkes’ argument that the PCR court deprived him of his right to an impartial jury and effective assistance of counsel.

Wilkes argued that his counsel failed to present potentially exculpatory evidence and that a juror wasn’t asked any questions by his counsel during jury selection.

“The post-conviction court granted the defendant’s request to vacate his death sentence. In thus imposing a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, the court denied the defendant's request for a reversal of his convictions and remand for a new trial based on claims that the defendant received constitutionally ineffective assistance of trial defense counsel; that the defendant was deprived of his right to an impartial jury under the U.S. and Indiana constitutions; and that the defendant was entitled to discovery or in camera review of the mental health records of Juror A's family,” Chief Justice Brent Dickson concluded in the unanimous opinion.

“In his appeal from this latter denial of post-conviction relief, the defendant has not met his burden to obtain appellate relief. He has not established that the post-conviction evidence conclusively points to a conclusion contrary to that of the post-conviction court. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court and the defendant's resulting sentence of life imprisonment without parole.”
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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