ILNews

Plea puts stop to federal death penalty trial

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The first-ever federal death penalty trial for the Southern District of Indiana was set to start today, but a plea agreement means a trial likely won't be happening at all for a man connected to a violent killing spree four years ago.

However, the Evansville court and U.S. Attorney's Office have been in this position before when the same defendant, Jarvis Brown, signed a plea agreement in September 2008 after months of postponements in the trial. Federal prosecutors indicted Brown in 2006, showing that Brown and two other men committed a crime spree and shot 12 people - killing four and wounding eight. The criminal activity was part of a series of robberies, attempted robberies, and shootings in Indianapolis and Evansville during an 18-day period in December 2005 that was all connected to a drug trafficking operation.

Last fall's plea agreement would have meant life in prison rather than execution for Brown, but he refused to sign a petition as the judge wanted, and the trial was rescheduled.

Now, attorneys have reached a similar result this time around. According to an entry dated March 17, the plea agreement entails Brown pleading guilty to six charges: murder to keep a woman from talking to law enforcement; three firearms counts, a count of drug trafficking conspiracy, and a count involving the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of narcotics.

All sides have agreed, and the court found Brown to be fully competent and capable of entering the plea agreement. A sentencing hearing is set before U.S. District Judge Richard Young in Evansville at 1:30 p.m. June 30.

Cases remain open for co-defendants Gabriel Jordan and Teddy Weems, though docket entries show Weems pleaded guilty at one point and Jordan's case could still lead to a death penalty trial.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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