The Indiana Supreme Court will decide whether a man convicted of murder and rape was denied effective assistance of appellate counsel.
The justices accepted just one case last week, Kevin Hampton v. State of Indiana, No. 84S04-1103-PC-161. Kevin Hampton claimed he received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel because his attorney didn’t argue error in the trial court’s ruling on a final instruction. His DNA matched the DNA profile developed from semen on the victim and he was charged with the crimes.
The trial court instructed the jury on direct and circumstantial evidence using the language of Indiana Pattern Jury Instruction (Criminal) 12.01 (2d ed. 1991), but omitted the last sentence of the pattern instruction. Hampton’s trial attorney objected, arguing the instruction should contain the omitted sentence, but on direct appeal Hampton’s appellate attorney didn’t assign this instruction and objection as prejudicial error.
The Indiana Court of Appeals concluded that it wasn’t an error in admitting the sentence and found the court’s instruction on proof beyond a reasonable doubt covered the issue and rendered harmless any potential error concerning the necessary proof where the evidence is purely circumstantial.