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Justice's first ruling affirms murder convictions, life sentence

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Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David issued his first decision as a member of the state’s highest court, affirming a life without parole sentence in a murder case out of Hamilton County.

The unanimous 10-page ruling came today in Anthony D. Delarosa v. State of Indiana, No. 29S00-0911-CR-531, which stems from the April 2007 murders of Rebecca Payne and her boyfriend, George Benner, in her home in Home Place. Evidence at trial established that Delarosa from Zionsville was connected to Payne’s estranged husband, who had coordinated the shooting.

A jury found Delarosa guilty of two counts of murder and one conspiracy count. Delarosa left his penalty in the hands of Hamilton Superior Judge Steven Nation when waiving his right to a jury trial for sentencing. The judge imposed a life without parole sentence for the murder convictions and a consecutive 50-year sentence on the conspiracy conviction.

On direct appeal of the three counts, Delarosa argued the trial court erred in admitting certain statements he contended were hearsay, that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the convictions, and that the state committed prosecutorial misconduct in closing arguments about what Delarosa had said.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in May, about two weeks before Justice Theodore R. Boehm announced he’d be stepping down. Justice David succeeded him in October, and this is his first published ruling as a state justice.

Going through each of the appellate issues raised, Judge David wrote that the trial judge didn’t err and used specific caselaw on point for each issue. He wrote that the state’s evidence bolstered their case and that even the claimed error about admitting testimony didn’t make a fair trial impossible and doesn’t rise to the level of fundamental error. The record shows the evidence was sufficient to convict him on the two murders. Delarosa failed to preserve the prosecutorial misconduct claim, but even if he had the record doesn’t reveal he’d be entitled to any relief, Justice David wrote.
 

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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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