ILNews

Trial court should have booted the bloody shoe, but conviction stands

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with a convicted murderer that his bloody shoe should not have been admitted into evidence, but the judges did not overturn the conviction, ruling other substantial independent evidence supported the guilty verdict.

Douglas Guilmette appealed his conviction for murder, contending, in part, the trial court violated Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution when it admitted the DNA evidence found on his shoe.

As part of its investigation into the September 2010 death of Greg Piechocki, the St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit interviewed Guilmette twice. During these sessions, along with telling detectives he did not like Piechocki, Guilmette admitted to taking deceased’s money and shoplifting from Walmart and Meijer.

Guilmette was subsequently arrested for the Walmart and Meijer thefts. In collecting Guilmette’s clothing and shoes, an officer saw what appeared to be spots of blood on the shoes.

Without a search warrant, Guilmette’s shoes and several other items were taken to the Indiana State Police Lab for blood and DNA analysis. A red stain on one of the shoelaces tested presumptively for blood and DNA testing indicated the stain was a mixture from Piechocki and Guilmette.

The COA, in Douglas A. Guilmette v. State of Indiana, 71A04-1205-CR-250, took no issue with the police taking Guilmette’s shoe at the time of his arrest. Nor did the court find any violation from the police looking at the shoe and discovering the red stains. 

However, the COA noted because Guilmette was initially arrested for the unrelated crimes of theft, not murder, the police should have obtained a warrant before doing the blood and DNA analysis of the shoe. The court then concluded the laboratory testing of his shoe for evidence of the murder was an unconstitutional search under the Indiana Constitution.

Still, the COA found the admission of the DNA evidence to be harmless because other substantial independent evidence of guilt was offered.  

Writing for court, Senior Judge Carr Darden explained, “The DNA evidence from the shoe was not the strongest evidence of guilt. It merely consisted of testimony that a small stain on Guilmette’s shoelace tested presumptively for blood and that subsequent DNA testing gave a mixture from which both Piechocki and Guilmette could not be excluded. Moreover, the testimony of four separate and independent witnesses that Guilmette admitted killing Piechocki with a baseball bat constituted overwhelming substantial independent evidence of guilt. Thus, the erroneous admission of the DNA evidence from the shoe was harmless.”

 

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Proof
    I don't care how many people, co conspirators, testify to hearsay for the purpose opf railroading a defendant, hearsay nor testimony are not proof. It seem that our courts have forgotten the meaning of proof beyond a reasonable doubt! Is it unreasonable to think that four independant witnesses could all be lying? Is it unreasonable to believe that the prosecutor hired these four witnesses? Wouldn't be the first time, do some research and you will be shocked out of your shoes!

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  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?

ADVERTISEMENT