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Supreme Court upholds life without parole sentence

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The Indiana Supreme Court has affirmed a man’s murder and robbery convictions and left in place his sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

Jeffery Cain came to Indiana with Matthu Sanders to find work. While in Indiana, they met Sanders’ friend Clinton Daniel Hess. Hess had a longstanding dispute with Raymond Morrow, who owned and operated a flea market. Morrow was later found dead in his flea market and the state charged Cain, Sanders, Hess and Matthew Nelson with murder, intentional murder and robbery while armed with a deadly weapon.

Cain objected to Hess’ testimony at his trial. On appeal, he argues that Hess’ testimony should have been excluded and that the prosecutor made prejudicial statements during her closing argument at the sentencing phase of his trial.

Hess originally refused to testify at Cain’s trial, but the state secured his testimony after the first day of that trial in exchange for a drastically lower charge in his own case. Cain argued that this caused him unfair surprise and deprived him of a fair trial. The justices disagreed, noting that Hess was listed as a witness for the state and that Cain’s lawyer had adequate time to prepare for cross-examination. The trial court was well within its discretion to deny Cain’s motion to exclude Hess’ testimony, wrote Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard in Jeffery W. Cain v. State of Indiana, No. 17S00-1008-CR-684.

The high court also looked at the prosecutor’s closing argument in which she mentioned terms-of-years sentences and how they can be reduced based on participation in education and other programs. She said, “Now people that are convicted of murder are pretty much on the bottom of their list to give ’em deals. But they have a lot of power to do that, unless you sentence Jeff Cain to life without parole.”

“Inaccurate as the prosecutor’s portrayal of these programs was, it seems apparent that the level of intentionality in Cain’s conduct (that being the charged aggravator) was very high,” wrote Shepard. “We conclude that this single paragraph in a closing argument that ran to over seven pages of transcript was not fundamental error.”
 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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