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Police questioning gets conviction booted a second time

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The child molesting conviction of a Lafayette man has again been overturned by the Indiana Court of Appeals because of problems with statements he made to police.

Ryan Bean was convicted in 2010 of Class A felony child molesting for abusing his daughter, H.B. That conviction was thrown out when the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled his confession was obtained in violation of Miranda rights.

Bean went voluntarily with Carroll and White county detectives to the Lafayette police station under the impression he was going to be questioned in connection with an investigation about child pornography. When the questioning turned to allegations made by his daughter, Bean invoked his right to counsel but the police did not honor his request.

During his retrial, the prosecutor called White County Sheriff Patrick Shafer to testify. Defense counsel objected, noting the admission of Bean’s interview at the first trial caused the second trial.

The trial court also expressed concern that even by narrowly questioning Shafer about the investigation process, the prosecutor could give the jury the impression that Bean said something to police. This, in turn, could penalize Bean for invoking his right against self-incrimination.

The prosecutor proceeded and asked Shafer about the pretrial investigation methods.

Bean appealed, asserting the prosecutor committed misconduct by having Shafer testify and by reinforcing in his closing arguments the vouching testimony from H.B.’s mother and the Indiana Department of Child Services investigator.

Like the trial court, the Court of Appeals found Shafer’s testimony punished Bean for exercising his Miranda rights.

“But most importantly, Sheriff Shafer’s testimony invited the jurors to speculate about what occurred during his interview with Bean – it implied either that he interviewed Bean and that Bean was silent or that Bean spoke during the interview but for some unknown reason, jurors were not permitted to hear what he said,” Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote for the court. “Both implications were improper – a prosecutor may not make a statement that a jury may reasonably interpret as an invitation to draw an adverse inference from a defendant’s silence … and this Court had already held that Bean’s Fifth Amendment rights were violated during his pretrial interview, making the substance of this interview inadmissible.”

The Court of Appeals found Bean was denied a fair trial and reversed his conviction in Ryan E. Bean v. State of Indiana, 91A02-1310-CR-912. In a footnote, the court stated Bean may be retried.   
 

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