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Prosecutor error insufficient to reverse murder conviction

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A prosecutor improperly presented facts that were not in evidence and inflamed the passions and prejudices of jurors in a murder trial, but his improper conduct didn’t rise to the level of reversible error, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

Alton Neville was convicted after a Marion Superior Court jury trial in December 2011 and sentenced to 55 years in prison on a count of murder and a charge of carrying a handgun without a license.

Neville shot and killed Jamal Hood near the intersection of West 31st and Clifton streets in Indianapolis on March 23, 2011, the jury found. On appeal Neville’s attorney raised several allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, including vouching for a witness, mischaracterizing evidence, arguing inconsistent facts, presenting facts not in evidence and inflaming the passions and prejudices of the jury.

The court in a unanimous opinion ruled that the prosecutor had committed the latter two transgressions and also that evidence was improperly admitted. But none of those missteps rise to the level of fundamental error, Judge Terry Crone wrote in Alton Neville v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1201-CR-9.

The prosecutor suggested that Neville stood over Hood’s body and gloated, a fact the court ruled was not in evidence.

The prosecutor also inflamed jurors’ passions and prejudices during final arguments, the judges ruled. “Based on the lies you’ve heard from him [Neville], but mostly based on the evidence that we presented before you, convict him. Do it for Jamal,” according to court records.
   
“Neville’s defense counsel forcefully countered the prosecutor’s arguments,” Crone wrote. “[T]he prosecutor’s improper comments, either singularly or collectively, were not so detrimental to the opportunities for the ascertainment of truth so as to make a fair trial impossible.”

The panel also found Neville’s sentence was not inappropriate. “Balancing the letters on behalf of Neville against his criminal history, we cannot say that Neville’s character warrants a sentence below the advisory,” the opinion says.

 

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  1. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

  2. Who gives a rats behind about all the fluffy ranking nonsense. What students having to pay off debt need to know is that all schools aren't created equal and students from many schools don't have a snowball's chance of getting a decent paying job straight out of law school. Their lowly ranked lawschool won't tell them that though. When schools start honestly (accurately) reporting *those numbers, things will get interesting real quick, and the looks on student's faces will be priceless!

  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

  4. Unfortunately, the court doesn't understand the difference between ebidta and adjusted ebidta as they clearly got the ruling wrong based on their misunderstanding

  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

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