COA orders new trial on repeat sexual, habitual criminal offender enhancements

The Indiana Court of Appeals has vacated a man’s habitual offender adjudications and remanded them for a new trial after finding he did not personally waive his right to a jury trial on the two enhancements.

Following a jury trial, Jerry Young was found guilty of Class A felony rape, Class A felony criminal deviate conduct and Class D felony intimidation, as well as being a repeat sexual offender and a habitual offender.

At his sentencing, the Elkhart Superior Court merged the rape and criminal deviate conduct convictions and sentenced Young to 50 years for rape and three years for intimidation, to be served concurrently. Young’s sentence was also enhanced by 30 years due to his status as a habitual offender and by an additional 10 years based on his repeat sexual offender status, resulting in an aggregate 90-year sentence.

But on direct appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals found the trial court erred by merging Young’s convictions for rape and criminal deviate conduct and by applying two enhancements to the single conviction. As a result, the appellate court remanded with instructions to enter judgment of conviction for the lesser-included offense of Class B felony criminal deviate conduct. It also instructed the trial court to attach Young’s habitual offender enhancement to his rape conviction and to attach his repeat sexual offender enhancement to his criminal deviate conduct conviction, leaving the enhanced sentences to be served concurrently for an aggregate 80-year sentence.

Young unsuccessfully filed a petition for post-conviction relief, prompting him to contend before the Indiana Court of Appeals that his stipulation to the repeat sexual offender and habitual criminal offender sentencing enhancements constituted a guilty plea. He also asserted his plea was not knowing, voluntary and intelligent because he did not personally waive his right to a jury trial.

In addition to finding Young’s stipulation was the equivalent of a guilty plea, the appellate court concluded, based on the trial transcript, that Young did not personally waive his right to a jury trial on the repeat sexual offender and habitual criminal offender enhancements. It therefore vacated the adjudications and remanded for a new trial on those enhancements.

The appellate court, however, rejected Young’s assertion that his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence on his rape conviction. It thus found the trial court properly denied Young’s petition as to his ineffective assistance claim in Jerry W. Young v. State of Indiana, 19A-PC-1217.

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