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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. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  2. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  3. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  4. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  5. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

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