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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. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  2. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  3. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

  4. Well, I agree with you that the people need to wake up and see what our judges and politicians have done to our rights and freedoms. This DNA loophole in the statute of limitations is clearly unconstitutional. Why should dna evidence be treated different than video tape evidence for example. So if you commit a crime and they catch you on tape or if you confess or leave prints behind: they only have five years to bring their case. However, if dna identifies someone they can still bring a case even fifty-years later. where is the common sense and reason. Members of congress are corrupt fools. They should all be kicked out of office and replaced by people who respect the constitution.

  5. If the AG could pick and choose which state statutes he defended from Constitutional challenge, wouldn't that make him more powerful than the Guv and General Assembly? In other words, the AG should have no choice in defending laws. He should defend all of them. If its a bad law, blame the General Assembly who presumably passed it with a majority (not the government lawyer). Also, why has there been no write up on the actual legislators who passed the law defining marriage? For all the fuss Democrats have made, it would be interesting to know if some Democrats voted in favor of it (or if some Republican's voted against it). Have a nice day.

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