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Supreme Court considers MySpace statement

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The Indiana Supreme Court today issued an opinion that affirmed a Kosciusko Circuit jury's conviction of a man who murdered his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter and the resulting sentence of life in prison without parole. The opinion also considered the defendant's novel question: whether statements from his social networking Web site, which were presented to the jury as evidence of his character, were admissible in court.

In Ian J. Clark v. State of Indiana, No. 43S00-0810-CR-575, the high court found Ian Clark's statements made on a MySpace page were admissible as evidence.

In the opinion, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard included the description that Clark made about himself on the Web site, which the prosecutor read for the court over the defense's objection:

"'Society labels me as an outlaw and criminal and sees more and more everyday how many of the people, while growing up, and those who judge me, are dishonest and dishonorable. Note, in one aspect I'm glad to say I have helped you people in my past who have done something and achieved on the other hand, I'm sad to see so many people who have nowhere. To those people I say, if I can do it and get away. B... sh.... And with all my obstacles, why the f... can't you.'"

Clark had also stated to a detective while waiting in an exam room with police, "I will f...ing kick your ass. I will send the Hell's Angels to kill you. F... it. It's only a C felony. I can beat this."

"Clark's MySpace declarations shared much with his boast to the police after he killed Samantha," Chief Justice Shepard wrote.

Clark argued that because prior criminal acts should not be admissible in court, the MySpace statement would fit into that category.

However, Chief Justice Shepard wrote, "Clark's posting contained only statements about himself and in reference to himself. (Tr. at 465-469.) Thus, the State is right to observe that this is solely evidence of his own statements, not of prior criminal acts. It was Clark's words and not his deeds that were at issue, so Rule 404(b) does not apply."

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