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Justices to review reversal of capped sentence after plea

September 22, 2014

The Indiana Supreme Court will review a case in which the Court of Appeals reversed a 10-year sentence, the most a man could receive under an agreement in which he pleaded guilty to multiple felonies.

In Larry D. Russell, Jr. v. State of Indiana, 84A01-1312-CR-532, the Court of Appeals reversed the sentence and remanded, finding the sentencing limitation in the plea deal was illegal. Russell pleaded guilty to five counts of Class C felony neglect of a dependent and two counts of Class C felony criminal confinement based on mistreatment of his adopted teenage children over a period of three months.

Prosecutors and Russell’s defender negotiated the plea deal pursuant to I.C. 35-50-1-2(c), but the appeals panel ruled the statute was erroneously applied because Russell’s crimes did not constitute an “episode” as required.

Separately, justices declined to review the conviction and sentence of a Hartford City youth pastor convicted of Class B felony sexual misconduct with a minor involving a 15-year-old girl who was a member of a church youth group.

The Court of Appeals affirmed an eight-year executed sentence in Joseph Pennington v. State of Indiana, 05A02-1309-CR-823 in a unanimous not-for-publication opinion. A majority of justices voted to deny transfer, though Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Justice Brent Dickson voted to grant transfer.

The Russell case is the lone case granted transfer out of 25 petitions for the week ending Sept. 19. Transfer dispositions may be viewed here.

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