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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Ind. Decisions - One from Supreme Court today

Donald Earl Houser v. State of Indiana (3/10/05 IndSCt) [Criminal Law & Procedure]
Sullivan, Justice

Defendant Donald Earl Houser was convicted of the murder of an elderly woman during the course of burglarizing her home. He challenges his convictions on grounds of trial court error in the admission of certain evidence, the constitutionality of the statute under which he was sentenced, and the severity of the sentence itself. We affirm the convictions and sentences. Any error in the admission of evidence was harmless given the evidence of Houser’s guilt; we have previously addressed and rejected the constitutional claims; and the sentence here is appropriate given the relative weight of the charged aggravating circumstance and the mitigating circumstances. * * *

Based on our review of the record and the law, we conclude that life without possibility of parole is appropriate for Houser’s murder of Mary Lou Gaerte.

Conclusion. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Boehm, J., concurs. Shepard, C.J., concurs with separate opinion in which Dickson, J., joins. Rucker, J., concurs except as to Part IV, from which he dissents.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 10, 2005 02:09 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions