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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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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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