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Justices find evidence supports intent to commit theft

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The Indiana Supreme Court upheld a man’s burglary conviction, finding sufficient evidence to support that he broke into the church and entered it with the intent to commit theft.

Michael W. Baker appealed his Class B felony burglary conviction following a trial on the grounds that the state didn’t prove that he acted with the requisite intent to steal from a church. A church member came to the church to pray and let himself in with his key. He discovered a broken window and blood; blood was also found throughout the church, including on several kitchen cabinets and drawers that were open. It didn’t appear that anything was taken from the church. The DNA collected at the scene matched Baker’s DNA.

The Indiana Court of Appeals had reversed his conviction, citing insufficient evidence of Baker’s intent to commit theft. The justices upheld the conviction, finding that the evidence suggesting Baker opened the cupboards and drawers in the kitchen was enough to support a reasonable inference that he entered the church with the intent to steal something.

Looking through the drawers and cupboards is not a necessary step in the act of breaking and entering into the church, but is an additional act that Baker chose to do. The jury could have reasonably concluded that he broke into the church with the intent to commit theft, wrote Chief Justice Brent Dickson in Michael W. Baker v. State of Indiana, No. 89S01-1109-CR-543.

“That there was no evidence that the defendant had rummaged through the drawers or cabinets, as the defendant argues, is of no consequence. The act of opening the drawers and cabinets alone was enough to support an inference of intent to commit theft. Evidence of rummaging would simply bolster the already reasonable inference of intent,” he wrote.

 

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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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