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COA affirms ex-wife’s murder conviction, sentence

December 16, 2016

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of a woman who shot and killed her ex-husband in 2014, finding that her claims of self-defense against domestic abuse were unsubstantiated.

During the early morning hours of May 26, 2014, Danielle Green shot Raymond Green, her ex-husband whom she was still living with, 10 times, killing him. After the shooting, Danielle Green put her ex-husband’s body into a large metal storage box outside of the mobile home they lived shared.

Later in the day, Danielle Green told family and friends that Raymond Green had been attacked and killed by their dog, but his family was suspicious and contacted the police. When Ohio County Sheriff’s Department deputies and Lawrenceburg and Indiana State police officers arrived, Danielle Green gave them permission to search the property, but refused to let them search the box – which smelled and was attracting flies – without a warrant.

Law enforcement obtained two warrants and searched both the box, where they found the body, and the mobile home, where they found blood and weapons. Danielle Green eventually admitted to shooting her ex-husband, but said she acted in self-defense because he had threatened to kill her multiple times.

The state charged Danielle Green with murder, and she told the Ohio Circuit Court that she intended to use an insanity defense. The court appointed two doctors to evaluate her, and Danielle Green also hired Dr. Karla Fischer, a research psychologist, to conduct an evaluation. Fischer’s evaluation found that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder due to Raymond Green’s abuse and that she did not intend to kill him. Danielle Green then filed to withdraw her intent to use an insanity plea.

The state then moved in May 2015 to exclude Fischer’s testimony, arguing that she was not qualified to diagnose PTSD and that her testimony bore upon the affirmative defenses Green withdrew.

Instead, the state presented the testimony of Dr. Edward Connor, who testified that PTSD is a mental illness and that, in Indiana, only a licensed psychologist can make that diagnosis. Connor further testified that Fischer did not follow recognized protocols in her evaluation of Green. The trial court agreed with Connor and entered an order excluding Fischer’s testimony related to an “effects of battery” defense and PTSD.

During the trial, the state presented evidence that the trajectory of the bullets found in Raymond Green’s body did not match the reenactment Danielle Green provided to the police after she confessed. Additionally, the state introduced testimony, over Danielle Green’s objection, from ISP Sgt. Stephen Weigel, who told the jury that based on the blood spatter, Raymond Green was likely shot while lying down. That supported the state’s theory that Danielle Green shot him while he was in bed.

The jury found Danielle Green guilty of murder, and the Ohio Circuit Court sentenced her to 60 years served in the Indiana Department of Correction. During sentencing, the court found that Danielle Green’s domestic violence claim was not credible and didn’t’ consider it as a mitigating factor.

Danielle Green appealed, arguing first that the trial court erroneously excluded Fischer’s testimony because that testimony “bore on (her) claim of self-defense by explaining why (she) reasonably believed that Raymond threatened her life.” But in its affirmation of Danielle Green’s conviction and sentence, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that based on the record, Fischer was not qualified to testify that the defendant suffered from PTSD.

Conversely, Danielle Green then argued that Weigel was not qualified as a blood spatter expert, so his testimony was erroneously admitted. But Judge James Kirsch, writing for the unanimous panel, pointed out in a Friday opinion that the state sought to use Weigel as a skilled witness, not an expert, and Weigel himself testified that he was not yet qualified as an expert. The appellate court found that Speigel’s testimony was admissible under Grinstead v. State, 684 N.E.2d 482, 487 (Ind. 1997), which held that a witness’ testimony can be considered expert if he demonstrates “sufficient expertise.”

Danielle Green further argued that the trial court abused its discretion in “refusing” to consider her claims of domestic abuse as a mitigating factor. But Kirsch wrote instead that the court did address her domestic abuse claim and chose to give it no weight.

Finally, Danielle Green told the appellate court that her sentence was inappropriate. But because she did not exhibit remorse for her actions and did not show that her character warrants revision of her sentence, Kirsch wrote that the sentence would stand.

The case is Danielle Green v. State of Indiana, 58A04-1511-CR-2008.
 

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