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Child molester’s plea didn’t void right to appeal sentence

January 16, 2018

A man who pleaded guilty to child molestation was not wrongly denied post-conviction relief, but the trial court erred in ruling that he could not directly appeal his sentence imposed after the plea agreement, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

Bradford M. Crowder was charged in April 2011 with Class A felony child molesting and multiple lesser felony child molesting counts. A few months later, he entered a plea to the lesser counts in exchange for the state’s dismissal of the Class A felony. The plea left sentencing to the discretion of the Allen Superior Court, which imposed an aggregate term of 61 years in the Department of Correction on the 15 remaining counts.

Crowder’s plea agreement also contained a provision stating that Crowder would not appeal his sentence, and in 2012, he filed a motion for post-conviction relief. It argued among other things, counsel should have advised him not to accept a plea agreement waiving his appellate rights for which he received no benefit. In 2015, the trial court permitted Crowder to file a belated appeal while it held his PCR petition in abeyance. Ultimately, the court denied the PCR petition.

The COA affirmed in part and reversed in part.

“(W)e affirm the post-conviction court’s order to the extent it upheld the plea agreement and reverse that portion of the court’s order finding that Crowder waived the remedy of permitting him to pursue an appeal of his sentence,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the panel in Bradford M. Crowder v. State of Indiana, 02A03-1704-PC-824.

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