Opinions May 5, 2021

The following Indiana Supreme Court opinion was posted after IL deadline Tuesday:
Zachariah Brian Wright v. State of Indiana
Life without parole. Affirms the denial of Zachariah Brian Wright’s request to self-represent, and his sentence of life without the possibility of parole plus 18 years for his convictions of murder, Level 3 felony criminal confinement, Level 6 felony theft, Level 5 felony burglary and Level 2 felony attempted burglary. Finds that Wright’s waiver of the right to counsel was knowing and voluntary, but because his waiver was neither unequivocal nor intelligent, the Boone Superior Court properly denied his request. Also finds Wright’s sentence was not inappropriate in light of the nature of his offenses or his character. Remands for the correction of a minor oversight in the sentencing order. Justice Mark Massa concurs in result with separate opinion. Justice Geoffrey Slaughter dissents with separate opinion.

Wednesday’s opinions
Indiana Court of Appeals
Jason Schnitzmeyer v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms Jason Schnitzmeyer’s conviction of Level 3 felony dealing in methamphetamine. Finds the Marion Superior Court did not abuse its discretion or commit fundamental error when it admitted incriminating text messages between Schnitzmeyer and Brad McKinney sent before Schnitzmeyer’s arrest on March 30, 2018, as the messages were highly probative. Also finds that because the messages were not introduced in Marion Superior Court for the impermissible purpose of demonstrating Schnitzmeyer acted in accordance with his prior acts, and because the risk of unfair prejudice did not outweigh this highly probative value, the messages were both relevant and admissible.

Darius J. Reynolds v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Darius Reynolds’ aggregate seven-year sentence for his convictions in Tippecanoe Superior Court of Level 4 felony possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Finds Reynolds’ sentence is not inappropriate.

In the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: G.R. (Minor Child) and E.B. (Father) v. Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)
Juvenile termination of parental rights. Affirms the termination of father E.B.’s parental rights to his minor child, G.R. Finds the Department of Child Services presented sufficient evidence to support the juvenile court’s order terminating E.B.’s parental rights to G.R. Also finds the Henry Circuit juvenile court’s order was not clearly erroneous.

In the Involuntary Termination of Parent-Child Relationship of M.M. Jr. and T.H. (Minor Children) and A.H. (Mother), and M.M., Sr., (Father) v. Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)
Juvenile termination of parental rights. Affirms the involuntary termination of father M.M. Sr. and mother A.H.’s parental rights to M.M. Jr. and T.H. Finds the Allen Superior Court’s findings supported its conclusions that the conditions under which the children were removed from the parents’ care would not be remedied, and that termination of the parents’ parental rights was in the children’s best interests, and that there existed a satisfactory plan for the children’s care following termination. Also finds the trial court did not err when it did not make findings to support a conclusion that the continuation of the parent-child relationship posed a threat to the children’s well-being because the trial court had already made the required findings and conclusions to support termination pursuant to the controlling statute.

In the Matter of: So.C., Child in Need of Services: K.C. (Mother) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services, and Sp.C. (Father) (mem. dec.)
Juvenile CHINS. Affirms the modification of custody of So.C. to father Sp.C. Finds the Wells Circuit juvenile court properly exercised jurisdiction of the custody matters. Also finds the juvenile court did not err in determining that Sp.C. had shown a substantial change in the circumstances warranting a change of custody. Finally, finds the juvenile court’s conclusion that a change of custody was in So.C.’s best interests and was not clearly erroneous.

Michael W. Wise, Sr. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms the denial of Michael W. Wise’s motion to modify his 16-year sentence for his convictions of Class C and Class D felony check fraud and the finding that he was a habitual offender. Finds the Hamilton Superior Court did not err.

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