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COA reverses incest, child molesting convictions after double jeopardy violation

October 30, 2018

The Indiana Court of Appeals partially reversed a man’s conviction for child molesting and incest when it found a double jeopardy violation in the convictions. 

William Bradley was convicted of three counts of child molesting and one count of incest and received an aggregate 30-year sentence after he was found to have forced his 6-year-old granddaughter to touch his penis with “all of” her face, placed a finger inside her vagina and touched her genitals and breasts over her clothes with his hand.

On appeal, Bradley first argued he was denied his right to a speedy trial under either Indiana Criminal Rule 4(C) or the federal and state constitutions. He also argued the Warrick Superior Court violated his double jeopardy rights, abused its discretion in the admission of certain evidence, committed fundamental error and presented insufficient evidence to support his convictions.

The Indiana Court of Appeals initially found the trial court did not err under either the U.S. Constitution or the Indiana Constitution when it denied Bradley’s motion for discharge, finding he failed to show any prejudice from the delay of his trial. It noted Bradley did twice assert his right to a speedy trial under Rule 4(C), but Bradley filed those motions notwithstanding his requests for or acquiescence in numerous delays.

The court also denied Bradley’s argument that the trial court abused its discretion when it prohibited him from introducing his daughter’s testimony from his first trial to impeach her during his second trial. But the appellate court found Bradley made no offer of proof on his assertion that the hearsay was reliable as an excited utterance from T.S., concluding the trial court’s assessment was correct.

Further, the appellate court found the trial court did not commit fundamental error in failing to intervene when the prosecutor during closing arguments said Bradley “had a guilty look on his face because he’s guilty,” though the judges noted they did not approve of the comment. They also found sufficient evidence to support the child molesting counts.

However, the court did find a double jeopardy violation when the jury found Bradley guilty for the very same acts on the incest counts as he was convicted for on the child molesting counts.

In its decision, the appellate court noted the prosecutor did not attempt to delineate a different act but, instead, informed the jury that if it found Bradley guilty on Count 1 and Count 2, then the remaining two counts would be a “slam dunk.” It thus vacated the one child molesting count and Bradley's incest conviction and their related sentences in William D. Bradley v. State of Indiana, 87A01-1711-CR-2584.

 

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