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COA finds dual conviction violated double jeopardy

February 20, 2015

On a sua sponte review, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned one conviction of a Hamilton County woman who was found guilty of charges surrounding the death of an infant in her care.

Kristen Phillips was convicted of reckless homicide, a Class C felony, and involuntary manslaughter, a Class D felony, following the death of five-month-old C.T.

Phillips, an employee of her mother’s home daycare business, allegedly put C.T. down for a nap in a broken crib. The autopsy determined that the baby had died of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death after he rolled over into the depression within the broken portable crib.

The Court of Appeals found the dual convictions violate double jeopardy principles. It affirmed Phillips’s reckless homicide conviction and vacated her involuntary manslaughter conviction in Kristen Phillips v. State of Indiana, 29A02-1407-CR-503.

Noting Phillips did not raise double jeopardy on her appeal, the unanimous panel asserted the issue should be raise sua sponte since violations of double jeopardy compromises a defendant’s fundamental rights.

“Both of Phillips’s convictions were based on the death of C.T.,” Judge Terry Crone wrote for the court. “Regardless of the statutory elements of the crimes or the actual evidence used to convict, at the end of the day a defendant cannot be convicted twice for causing the death of one individual.”  

 

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