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Incredible dubiosity argument does not sway Indiana Supreme Court

March 24, 2015

Inconsistencies from witnesses on the details of a crime did not convince the Indiana Supreme Court to overturn a jury’s verdict that found a South Bend man guilty of two murders.

Charles Moore was sentenced to 65 years for the felony murder of Alejandro Tinoco and life without parole for the murder of Jazmin Conlee in 2013. He argued the incredible dubiosity rule should be applied because the testimony of the three witnesses at trial was so contradictory that the verdict reached was inherently improbable.

The Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the conviction and sentences, finding the three factors for the application of the incredible dubiosity rule had not been met.

“The incredible dubiosity rule is inapplicable in the present case and cannot serve as ground for overturning the jury’s verdict,” Justice Steven David wrote in Charles Moore v. State of Indiana, 71S00-1405-LW-361. “Furthermore, based upon the evidence presented at trial, a reasonable jury could have found each element of murder and felony murder beyond a reasonable doubt.”

In particular, the Supreme Court noted multiple witnesses had testified where the incredible dubiosity rule requires that only one witness provide testimony. The justices held even if they were inclined to expand the rule’s application to multiple testifying witnesses, Moore’s case was inappropriate to do so because the other two factors necessary for application were also lacking.

First, the testimony of the three witnesses was not inherently improbable, contradictory or coerced. At trial none of the three waivered in their accounts that Moore was the shooter.

 “It is not disputed that the three witnesses disagreed on some details, such as who had it in for Tinoco, who handed Moore the gun, what happened to the gun after the shooting, and where each person went after the shooting,” David wrote. “Again, inconsistencies among the testimonies of the witnesses merely puts the burden upon the jury to determine which witness to believe.”

Second, the circumstantial evidence in this case prohibited reliance on the incredible dubiosity rule. Shoe prints that were the same size and pattern as Moore’s at the scene along with Tinoco’s DNA present on a car’s floor mat where Moore sat after the shooting linked him to the crime.  
 

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