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Man's murder sentence upheld in abduction slaying

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A man convicted of murder in Allen County will continue to serve a 65-year sentence after the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that the callousness of the crime merited the consideration of numerous aggravators.

In Delmas Sexton II v. State of Indiana, No. 02A03-1110-CR-465, Sexton argued that the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing him when it found as an aggravating circumstance the fact that as a multiple-conviction felon, he was unlawfully possessing the gun he used to kill his victim.

The court also rejected Sexton’s claim that the Allen Superior Court sentence was improper because its consideration of his criminal past resulted in double jeopardy.

In March 2009, Sexton went to the home of Donald McKee, ordered him at gunpoint to write checks, then bound him with duct tape, covered his head and forced him into a truck. According to court documents, Sexton shot McKee in the head three times and left him in the truck, where McKee was found more than a week later.

Sexton was charged with murder; felony murder; Class A felony robbery; criminal confinement and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, both Class B felonies, and two counts of Class C felony forgery. The state also alleged that Sexton was a habitual offender.

According to court records, Sexton punched his attorney in the face in open court as a trial was set to begin in 2009, resulting in the trial’s cancellation.  As another jury trial was about to begin, Sexton pleaded guilty to felony murder and the state dropped the remaining charges.

“Sexton says the trial court’s finding of multiple aggravators relating to his criminal past (like his criminal convictions, his drug use, the escalating nature of his crimes of violence, that he is at high risk of reoffending) is akin to being punished multiple times for the same offense. We disagree,” Senior Judge Randall Shepard wrote in an opinion joined by Judge Edward Najam Jr.

“A trial court may consider multiple factors relating to a defendant’s criminal past at the sentencing stage. The trial court here convicted Sexton of felony murder. For that crime, the trial court imposed one sentence. There is no double jeopardy violation,” Shepard wrote.

Judge L. Mark Bailey in a brief concurring opinion wrote that he relied on Farmer v. State, No. 772 N.E.2d 1025 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002), as the proper application of Hammons v. State, 493 N.E.2d 1250 (Ind. 1986), cited as precedent in affirming Sexton’s conviction.

 

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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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