Terre Haute killer loses appeal to withdraw guilty plea

September 12, 2018

A man who pleaded guilty to murder last year and was sentenced to 60 years in prison cannot withdraw his plea, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

The court’s ruling in a memorandum decision lets stand Robert J. Price II’s sentence in the killing of Katie Nash. Price was charged in January 2017 with fatally shooting Nash, and about a year later, he pleaded guilty. But before he was sentenced, he moved to withdraw the plea, indicating he “did not quite understand” that he would lose his right to appeal if he pleaded.

Vigo Superior Judge Sarah K. Mullican denied Price’s motion, and the COA affirmed that decision Wednesday in Robert J. Price, II v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.), 18A-CR-607.  

Judge Elizabeth Tavitas wrote for a panel that was dubious of the arguments by Price, who also had faced a possible habitual offender enhancement before he pleaded.  

“The trial court asked Price: ‘Do you understand that if you went to trial and were found guilty, you would have the right to appeal your sentence or conviction to the Indiana Supreme Court or the Indiana Court of Appeals?’ Price agreed that he understood,” Tavitas wrote. “The trial court also asked Price: ‘[D]o you understand by pleading guilty you are waiving your right to appeal?’ ... Price again agreed that he understood.”

The appellate court also noted Price’s “lengthy criminal history and several previous guilty pleas,” and found the trial court was well within its discretion when it did not give credit to Price’s claim of misunderstanding.

“… In the absence of a manifest injustice, it was within the trial court’s discretion to grant or deny the motion. The trial court found that Price had ‘buyer’s remorse’ and had simply ‘changed his mind.’ … Under these circumstances, Price has failed to show the trial court abused its discretion when it denied Price’s request to withdraw his plea of guilty,” Tavitas wrote for the panel.     



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