ILNews

State waited too long to file charges, court rules

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed a voluntary manslaughter case on grounds that prosecutors waited too long to file charges.

Appellate judges issued a decision today in Ralph Barnett v. State of Indiana, 48A02-0605-CR-389 which stems from a 1993 physical confrontation at the Pendleton Correctional Facility. Barnett got into fight with fellow inmate Ricky Combs after being released from cells for a creation session, and Barnett maneuvered a handmade pick away from Combs before starting to walk away. When Combs attacked again, Barnett pinned him against a nearby gate and stabbed him repeatedly with the knife. Guards broke up the fight and inmates returned to their cells, where guards soon after found Combs bleeding. He later died of the stab wounds after being transported to a hospital.

The state didn't charge Barnett for 12 years, and Barnett filed a motion to dismiss on that eventual charging in July 2005 on grounds that the delay violated his due process rights. The trial judge denied the motion and a jury later found Barnett not guilty of murder, but guilty of a lesser-included offense of voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment.

In its unanimous opinion today, the Court of Appeals wrote that there is no evidence that the delay was necessary and that it hampered Barnett's ability to fully investigate the case and effectively cross-examine witnesses. Along with witnesses, the prosecutor in the case has died, the panel noted.

"Here, Barnett was clearly prejudiced by the State's unexplained and unjustified delay - whether intentional or negligent - in bringing charges," Judge James Kirsch wrote.
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  1. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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