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
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Unfortunately, the court doesn't understand the difference between ebidta and adjusted ebidta as they clearly got the ruling wrong based on their misunderstanding

  2. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

  3. I am one of Steele's victims and was taken for $6,000. I want my money back due to him doing nothing for me. I filed for divorce after a 16 year marriage and lost everything. My kids, my home, cars, money, pension. Every attorney I have talked to is not willing to help me. What can I do? I was told i can file a civil suit but you have to have all of Steelers info that I don't have. Of someone can please help me or tell me what info I need would be great.

  4. It would appear that news breaking on Drudge from the Hoosier state (link below) ties back to this Hoosier story from the beginning of the recent police disrespect period .... MCBA president Cassandra Bentley McNair issued the statement on behalf of the association Dec. 1. The association said it was “saddened and disappointed” by the decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown. “The MCBA does not believe this was a just outcome to this process, and is disheartened that the system we as lawyers are intended to uphold failed the African-American community in such a way,” the association stated. “This situation is not just about the death of Michael Brown, but the thousands of other African-Americans who are disproportionately targeted and killed by police officers.” http://www.thestarpress.com/story/news/local/2016/07/18/hate-cops-sign-prompts-controversy/87242664/

  5. What form or who do I talk to about a d felony which I hear is classified as a 6 now? Who do I talk to. About to get my degree and I need this to go away it's been over 7 years if that helps.

ADVERTISEMENT