ILNews

Woman didn't prove she should get new trial

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Finding a defendant didn't meet her burden of proving her newly discovered evidence claim, the Indiana Court of Appeals today upheld the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief. The appellate court also ruled the court didn't err in excluding expert testimony during her post-conviction hearing.

In Alexa Whedon v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0808-PC-677, Alexa Whedon was convicted of murder under an accomplice liability theory; the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed her conviction and sentence on direct appeal.

In 2004, she filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging she had newly discovered evidence based on information from Michelle Griffin. Griffin testified that she was in jail on a forgery charge at the same time as Whedon and three other inmates who testified at Whedon's trial about what Whedon had told them regarding her connection to the murder.

Griffin claimed the women were lying and banded together on one story to benefit their own incarceration. The post-conviction court questioned Griffin's credibility and ruled her testimony was just mere impeachment evidence of the state's witnesses and doesn't meet the newly discovered evidence test.

The Court of Appeals found Whedon failed to prove three of the nine requirements of when new evidence mandates a new trial when it found Griffin's testimony was merely impeaching, not worthy of credit, and wouldn't probably produce different results at trial. The appellate court only addressed the credibility issue. The post-conviction court found Griffin to be vague in her answers and lacking credibility, so Whedon failed to show she's entitled to a new trial, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik.

The Court of Appeals examined the testimony of Whedon's expert witness, Rob Warden, who spoke about incentivized witnesses and wrongful convictions. Warden had conducted studies on wrongful convictions involving "snitches." The post-conviction court excluded his testimony on the grounds it violated Ind. Evid. Rules 702 and 704.

The subject of "incentivized testimony" isn't a scientific, technical, or other specialized area in which an expert must guide the trier of fact, wrote Judge Vaidik. Because his testimony fell within the trier of fact's common sense, it wasn't helpful and was properly excluded. In addition, his testimony implies the witnesses in this case didn't testify truthfully or were more likely than not to lie; Rule 704(b), she wrote, prohibits a witness from testifying about whether a witness has testified truthfully.

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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