Lake County man’s 5-year sentence for shooting upheld

The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed that a Lake County man’s five-year sentence for shooting someone multiple times must be served despite his pre-sentencing rehabilitation efforts.

After shooting a man multiple times and leaving him permanently injured in June 2014, Javier Zavala was sentenced to five years in the Department of Corrections for conviction of Class C felony battery causing serious bodily injury.

Appealing his conviction and sentence, Zavala argued that the Lake Superior Court should have identified his pre-sentencing rehabilitation efforts as a significant mitigating circumstance and that the trial court abused its discretion when it didn’t. Although it found the oral and written sentencing statements could have been more detailed, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded no abuse of discretion occurred.

“Here, although not obligated to do so, the trial court explained to Zavala that she acknowledged the great strides he had made to improve himself in the time between when he committed the crime and the time of sentencing,” Senior Judge Carr Darden wrote for the court. “However, it is clear in her oral statement that she gave it no weight.

“Implicitly recognizing the lapse of time due to numerous continuances, most if not all at Zavala’s request, the trial court noted that most people facing the possibility of a six-year sentence executed in the Department of Correction (under the plea agreement; 8 years under the statute) could modify their behavior over the course of four years,” the panel continued. “She further indicated her opinion that though Zavala today was not the man he was at the time of the commission of the offense, he must still be held accountable for what he had done at the time of the crime.”

The appellate court additionally found Zavala’s sentence was not inappropriate, finding his criminal history, gang affiliation and reputation reflected poorly on his character. It further disagreed with his argument that the trial court erred as a matter of law by ordering a period of incarceration, finding he did not meet the burden of persuading the court that his sentence was inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and his character.

The sentence and conviction was therefore affirmed in Javier Antonio Zavala v. State of Indiana, 19A-CR-00558.

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