The husband of a late Indiana legislator convicted of murdering a northwestern Indiana lawyer and family friend will serve his 55-year advisory sentence, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Thursday.
William “Bill” Landske, the widower of former state Sen. Sue Landske, was arrested in 2018, accused of fatally shooting Lake County lawyer and family friend T. Edward Page at the attorney’s Hobart home. Landske, who was 83 at the time of the killing, told law enforcement he shot Page because he had been “pissed off” because of Page’s procrastination in preparing his taxes after the death of his wife several years earlier.
The shooting occurred in August 2018, when Landske was at Page’s residence with his two daughters to collect tax paperwork Page had in his possession. Upon pulling Page aside, Landske shot him in the stomach four times with a shot to the upper abdomen killing Page instantly.
At his jury trial, Landske argued that he had killed Page in the heat of the moment as a result of Page’s provocation and that he could only be convicted of voluntary manslaughter, not murder. After Landske requested a voluntary manslaughter instruction, the parties and the trial court discussed at length whether there was a “serious evidentiary dispute” on the question of sudden heat.
Although the court stated that it was a “close call,” the court ultimately instructed the jury on both murder and voluntary manslaughter. The jury found Landske guilty of murder and sentenced him to an advisory term of 55 years in the Department of Correction.
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed that sentence in an appeal of William Steve Landske v. State of Indiana, 19A-CR-2528, noting it was not persuaded that the sight of a large number of tax-related documents in Page’s foyer was a provocation sufficient to cause Landske’s sudden “impetus to kill.”
“Landske confuses irritation and consternation with provocation,” Judge Edward Najam wrote for the appellate court. “… The jury found no sudden heat, and we will not disturb its finding. Accordingly, we hold that in its case-in-chief the State presented evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Landske was not acting under sudden heat when he killed Page.”
Additionally, the appellate court found nothing inappropriate about Landske’s advisory sentence of 55-years. It noted that his reliance on Griffin v. State, 963 N.E.2d 685 (Ind. Ct. App. 2012) was misplaced, pointing out that nothing in Page’s conduct “would remotely entitle Landske to mitigation of his sentence.”
It likewise found that whether the murder was premeditated, Landske’s behavior toward Page “was methodical and deliberate, that he delivered not one shot but multiple shots to Page, point blank and at close range, all of which reflects poorly on his character.”
“And then Landske calmly recounted the details of the murder to law enforcement in a matter-of-fact manner with no apparent indication of remorse,” the appellate court wrote. “The trial court’s judgment in sentencing is entitled to considerable deference. We cannot say that Landske’s advisory sentence is inappropriate in light of his character.”