Murder convictions ineligible for expungement, appeals court rules

An Indiana trial court properly denied expungement to an out-of-state inmate convicted of murder in Indiana, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

Appellant-petitioner Michael Kelley is currently incarcerated in Louisiana but has a lengthy rap sheet in Indiana, where he was convicted of murder in 1982. Also, Kelley was convicted in Missouri federal court on firearm and drug charges in 2014.

Then in January 2020, Kelley filed a petition in Lake Superior Court to expunge his criminal record in the Hoosier State. The state objected, arguing that his murder conviction was not eligible for expungement and that less than eight years had passed between his federal conviction and his expungement petition.

The trial court denied the expungement petition and Kelley’s subsequent motion to correct error, and the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in Michael Kelley v. State of Indiana, 20A-XP-1413.

“Kelley contends that he is eligible for expungement of his Indiana felony convictions because, due to his continuous incarceration, he has not engaged in any criminal activity since his 2011 arrest,” in Texas, Judge Melissa May wrote Friday. “However, the larger impediment to Kelley’s petition is that neither Indiana Code section 35-38-9-3 nor -4 allows murderers to petition for expungement.

“The expungement statutes render Kelley ineligible because of his murder conviction, and therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying his expungement petition,” May wrote. “Thus, we affirm the trial court.”

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