Rape

Split 7th Circuit allows death penalty challenge asserting intellectual disability

May 4, 2015
Dave Stafford
A killer sentenced in Texas and awaiting execution on federal death row in Terre Haute will be allowed to proceed with efforts to present new evidence of intellectual disability that would make him ineligible for capital punishment, a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals en banc review determined in a 6-5 opinion.
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Revised sentence modification statute not applicable in defendant’s case

April 30, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
A trial court did not err in denying a man’s petition to modify his sentence after finding that the current version of the sentencing modification statute is not applicable to his sentence, which he began serving in 1989. The Indiana Court of Appeals panel relied on a January decision by its colleagues to affirm the denial of Mitchell Swallows’ petition.
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Judge reduces convicted kidnapper's sentence; man to be freed

April 13, 2015
 Associated Press
A northwest Indiana judge has cleared the way for a man serving three life sentences on rape and kidnapping convictions to be freed after nearly four decades in prison.
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Bragging is admissible in court, COA rules

March 25, 2015
Marilyn Odendahl
A defendant’s statement to law enforcement that he could “read” people was a boast and not a character reference, according to the Indiana Court of Appeals, so it was admissible at trial.
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COA affirms admission of re-recorded videos in rape trial

February 13, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
A man convicted of raping his wife after drugging her – and recording several sexual encounters – could not convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that the wife’s recordings of the videos she found on her husband’s cellphone should not have been admitted at his trial.
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COA reverses confinement conviction, cautions prosecution on future statements

February 5, 2015
Dave Stafford
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a Lake County man’s Class B felony criminal confinement conviction because the trial court erred in admitting out-of-court statements by an alleged accomplice.
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Judge rules man on death row not competent to be executed

November 20, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
A special judge in Johnson County has ruled that Michael Dean Overstreet is not currently competent to be executed.
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2 charged with kidnapping woman want trials moved

November 13, 2014
 Associated Press
Attorneys for the two people charged with holding a southwestern Indiana woman captive for two months say they plan on asking for their trials to be moved to another county.
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Indianapolis man gets 28 years for coercing sex

October 7, 2014
 Associated Press
A judge sentenced an Indianapolis man to 28 years in prison Monday for tricking teenage girls as young as 13 into sending him explicit photos via Facebook and using the photos to coerce the girls into having sex with him.
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Woman’s suit against hospital for disparaging comments revived by COA

September 26, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
A trial court erred when it dismissed a woman’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim filed against Community Hospital after she says staff made derogatory comments regarding her situation after she was brought in unconscious and under the influence of a date rape drug.
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Judges order new rape trial based on inadmissible evidence

August 29, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
Because a detective’s testimony that a man on trial for committing rape was also a suspect in another case likely had a prejudicial impact on the jury finding the man guilty, the Indiana Court of Appeals ordered a new trial.
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Appeals court affirms post-conviction relief not justified for rapist

July 15, 2014
Dave Stafford
A man who pleaded guilty in 1997 to raping his 6-year-old daughter committed a crime so heinous that his sentence of 50 years in prison was justified, and he raised no issues in a post-conviction relief appeal on which the sentence could be reduced.
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Order requiring man to participate in sex offender program not unconstitutional

June 18, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals has found that the order requiring a man to participate in the Sex Offender Management and Monitoring program does not violate Indiana’s prohibition of ex post facto laws.
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Man knowingly waived right to jury trial on all charges

April 10, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a defendant’s argument that he only agreed to a bench trial on one of the seven charges he faced following a violent altercation with his girlfriend.
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Divided court upholds principal’s conviction of failure to report child abuse

March 27, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
A split Indiana Supreme Court Thursday upheld a misdemeanor failure to report child abuse conviction against former Muncie Central High School principal Christopher Smith. The dissent believed the state failed to show he had reason to believe an alleged rape was child abuse.
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Judges reduce rapist’s sentence to 165 years

March 19, 2014
Jennifer Nelson

The Indiana Court of Appeals Wednesday slashed 105 years from a convicted rapist’s sentence, concluding the original 270-year sentence was far outside the norm for a single episode of conduct against a single victim.

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Man tried twice for same offense, but relief denial affirmed

August 28, 2013
Dave Stafford
A divided Indiana Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a man convicted of rape on retrial was unconstitutionally prosecuted twice for the same offense, but the court upheld denial of post-conviction relief.
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Man’s challenge to requirement he register as sex offender dismissed

February 20, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals concluded it lacked jurisdiction over an appeal out of Marion County by a man who argues he shouldn’t have to register as a sex offender for a 1982 rape conviction in California.
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Judges affirm defendant must register as sex offender as part of probation

February 14, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A defendant who was convicted of robbery and rape, but whose rape conviction was vacated on double jeopardy concerns, can still be required to register as a sex offender as a condition of his probation, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Thursday.
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Judges uphold sexually violent predator status

February 5, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals found a defendant failed to establish that the process used to determine his sexually violent predator status constituted a fundamental error, so the court upheld the SVP status.
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Federal court stays Roy Lee Ward’s execution

December 4, 2012
Dave Stafford
A federal appeals court judge Tuesday granted a stay of execution for an Indiana man convicted of the torturous rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl.
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Appeals court upholds rape conviction

July 13, 2012
Dave Stafford
A man convicted of rape based on DNA evidence and his admission that he had sex with the victim failed to prove to the Indiana Court of Appeals that he was denied a fair trial due to the admission of hearsay testimony and a sustained objection to an attempt to refresh the victim’s memory.
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Judges disagree over impact of mental illness label at sentencing

July 11, 2012
Jennifer Nelson
7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Diane Wood believed that Michael Dean Overstreet, who was convicted of killing Franklin College student Kelly Eckart in 1997, was prejudiced by his attorneys’ decisions at sentencing regarding which experts should testify about his mental illness.
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Supreme Court affirms death sentence in 2001 rape, murder

June 22, 2012
Dave Stafford
A man whose death sentence and murder and rape convictions previously were reversed on appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court remains condemned after the justices on Thursday affirmed a trial court’s denial of post-conviction relief.
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Judges uphold college student's rape conviction

June 20, 2012
Jennifer Nelson
The man charged with raping a fellow Vincennes University student following a night of drinking had his conviction affirmed by the Indiana Court of Appeals.
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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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