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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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  1. Hysteria? Really Ben? Tell the young lady reported on in the link below that worrying about the sexualizing of our children is mere hysteria. Such thinking is common in the Royal Order of Jesters and other running sex vacays in Thailand or Brazil ... like Indy's Jared Fogle. Those tempted to call such concerns mere histronics need to think on this: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-12-year-old-girl-live-streamed-her-suicide-it-took-two-weeks-for-facebook-to-take-the-video-down/ar-AAlT8ka?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartanntp

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  3. This is happening so much. Even in 2016.2017. I hope the father sue for civil rights violation. I hope he sue as more are doing and even without a lawyer as pro-se, he got a good one here. God bless him.

  4. JLAP and other courtiers ... Those running court systems, have most substance abuse issues. Probably self medicating to cover conscience issues arising out of acts furthering govt corruption

  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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