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. Great observation Smith. By my lights, speaking personally, they already have. They counted my religious perspective in a pro-life context as a symptom of mental illness and then violated all semblance of due process to banish me for life from the Indiana bar. The headline reveals the truth of the Hoosier elite's animus. Details here: Denied 2016 petition for cert (this time around): (“2016Pet”) Amicus brief 2016: (“2016Amici”) As many may recall, I was banned for five years for failing to "repent" of my religious views on life and the law when a bar examiner demanded it of me, resulting in a time out to reconsider my "clinging." The time out did not work, so now I am banned for life. Here is the five year time out order: Denied 2010 petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): (“2010Pet”) Read this quickly if you are going to read it, the elites will likely demand it be pulled down or pile comments on to bury it. (As they have buried me.)

  2. if the proabortion zealots and intolerant secularist anti-religious bigots keep on shutting down every hint of religious observance in american society, or attacking every ounce of respect that the state may have left for it, they may just break off their teeth.

  3. "drug dealers and traffickers need to be locked up". "we cannot afford just to continue to build prisons". "drug abuse is strangling many families and communities". "establishing more treatment and prevention programs will also be priorities". Seems to be what politicians have been saying for at least three decades now. If these are the most original thoughts these two have on the issues of drug trafficking and drug abuse, then we're no closer to solving the problem than we were back in the 90s when crack cocaine was the epidemic. We really need to begin demanding more original thought from those we elect to office. We also need to begin to accept that each of us is part of the solution to a problem that government cannot solve.

  4. What is with the bias exclusion of the only candidate that made sense, Rex Bell? The Democrat and Republican Party have created this problem, why on earth would anyone believe they are able to fix it without pushing government into matters it doesn't belong?

  5. This is what happens when daddy hands over a business to his moron son and thinks that everything will be ok. this bankruptcy is nothing more than Gary pulling the strings to never pay the creditors that he and his son have ripped off. they are scum and they know it.