Two convicted child molesters will spend more time incarcerated after the Indiana Supreme Court ruled their sentences were not inappropriate under Appellate Rule 7(B).
The state’s highest court vacated a pair of decisions by the Indiana Court of Appeals to halve sentences in both Kirk B. Lynch v. State of Indiana, 40S05-1301-CR-23, and Calvin Merida v. State of Indiana, 69S01-1301-CR-24. The justices ruled trial courts’ imposing of a 40–year sentence on Kirk Lynch and a 60-year term on Calvin Merida were appropriate.
After being convicted of attempted child molesting, a Class A felony, Lynch was sentenced to 40 years with five years suspended. Merida pled guilty to two counts of child molesting as Class A felonies. He was given consecutive advisory sentences for an aggregate term of 60 years.
The sentencing range for a Class A felony is 20 to 50 years with the advisory sentence being 30 years.
However, the trial court found the aggravating factors in the Lynch case, including that he was an Internet sexual predator and had a criminal history, outweighed the mitigating factors and therefore justified a sentence in excess of the advisory term. For Merida, the trial court noted his lack of criminal history but drew attention to the length of time his conduct occurred and the victim’s suffering.
On appeal, the COA revised Lynch’s sentence to the minimum term of 20 years and revised Merida’s sentence by ordering them to run concurrently, which reduced the aggregate term to 30 years. It cited Indiana Appellate Rule 7(B), which allows an appellate court to revise a sentence if it deems that sentence is inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and the character of the offender.
In a per curiam decisions, the state Supreme Court affirmed the sentences handed down by the trial courts. The justices wrote in Lynch “…our collective judgment is that the sentence imposed by the trial court is not inappropriate under Appellate Rule 7(B), and does not warrant appellate revision.”