COA to hear post-conviction, attempted murder cases

The Indiana Court of Appeals will hear arguments this week in a murder case and on two post-conviction petitions.  

Appellate judges will first hear Romana Balderas v. State of Indiana, 17A-PC-03014 as a case of first impression at 11 a.m. Monday in the Indiana Court of Appeals courtroom. Balderas pleaded guilty in Clinton County to Class C felony conspiracy to commit forgery and appeals the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief.

On appeal, Balderas argues that the doctrine of laches does not prohibit appellate consideration of her case and that she would not have entered a plea agreement had her attorney informed her of the severe deportation consequences that would result from pleading guilty.

Next, the appellate court will hear the case of Roderick Vandrell Lewis v. State of Indiana, 18A-PC-00767 at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Walker Career Center, 9651 E. 21st St., Indianapolis. Lewis was convicted of two counts of felony murder after he and two other men planned to rob two juvenile drug dealers. During the robbery, Lewis’s cohorts each shot and killed a victim. He refused instructions to shoot a victim, instead handing a gun to another person.

Lewis argues in his petition for post-conviction relief that his counsel abandoned him at sentencing and was ineffective. He also challenges the effectiveness of appellate counsel.

Appellate judges will also hear James E. Ross, Jr. v. State of Indiana, 18A-CR-01262, at 1 p.m. Thursday in the Indianapolis Court of Appeals courtroom. Ross appeals his conviction In Elkhart County of Level 1 felony attempted murder.

He raises two issues for appeal: that the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted text messages found in a deleted file on Ross’ iPhone 6, as well as when it denied his motion for mistrial based on the “drumbeat” testimony of multiple witnesses regarding the victim’s out-of-court statements.  

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