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Negative drug test, prior accusations don’t change molester’s convictions

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The Indiana Court of Appeals Monday affirmed the child molesting convictions and 30-year sentence of a man who claimed he was prejudiced because the trial court declined to admit a drug test from the victim showing she had no marijuana in her system.

The 11-year-old victim told authorities that John Barnhart, her mother’s live-in boyfriend, had molested her. She also claimed he had given her marijuana several times, including the night before he molested her.

Barnhart was convicted of two counts of Class A felony child molesting and Class A misdemeanor marijuana possession, but he was found not guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was sentenced to an aggregate 30 years in prison.

At trial in Noble Superior Court, the state’s motion to exclude the evidence of the drug test was granted over Barnhart’s objection. Barnhart said the test results went to the victim’s credibility.

In  John Barnhart v. State of Indiana, 57A04-1312-CR-601, the appeals court noted the evidence against Barnhart supporting his convictions included his sperm on the child’s bed sheet.

"Even assuming that the court abused its discretion, we cannot say that Barnhart’s substantial rights were affected. The evidence directly related to Count IV, contributing to the delinquency of a minor as a class A misdemeanor, of which the jury found Barnhart not guilty," Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the panel.

Barnhart also was unable to persuade the appellate court that the trial court erred in considering accusations for prior uncharged acts at sentencing.

“Even assuming that the trial court abused its discretion with respect to acknowledging Barnhart’s knowledge of prior accusations, we observe that the court also found three other aggravators which Barnhart does not challenge,” Brown wrote. "In light of the remaining aggravators, we can say with confidence that the trial court would have imposed the same advisory and concurrent sentences for Counts I and II had it considered only these aggravators.”
 

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