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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ind. Decisions - More on: 7th Circuit rules against Indiana Supreme Court in prisoner appeal [Updated]

A story by Bob Kasarda of the Munster (NW Indiana) Times fills in some of the facts in Ben-Yisrayl, Obadyah v. Davis, decided Tuesday by the 7th Circuit (see 12/13/05 ILB entry here). Some quotes:

A federal appeals court upheld an earlier ruling setting aside the Porter County convictions of Christopher Peterson, who was held responsible for a number of shotgun killings across Northwest Indiana during 1990. But Peterson will not be walking out of prison anytime soon. [This is the 7th Circuit's opinion, accessible via the above link.]

Porter County officials are not giving up on the case, and the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the 120-year sentence Peterson received for killing two men in Lake County, according to Porter County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Brian Gensel. [This is an Indiana Court of Appeals opinion, also issued Tuesday, Dec. 13th. It is NFP, but the ILB obtained a copy of it this evening. Here it is.]

The ruling involving Porter County came Tuesday from the federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Gensel said. The ruling upheld a federal district court's decision in 2003 that set aside Porter County's conviction due to problems with the trial transcript and Porter County Prosecutor James Douglas' comment to the jury during closing arguments in 1992 that Peterson had not testified on his own behalf. * * *

Douglas has asked the Indiana attorney general's office to seek a rehearing with the 7th Circuit Court and to present the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. If those attempts fail, Gensel said his office intends to refile the murder charges against Peterson within the allotted 120 days.

Gensel said his office is prepared to retry the case out of principle and to head off surprises at the appellate level involving the Lake County conviction. "Often times, these are never over," he said.

The state court ruling involving Lake County came the same day as the federal decision, Gensel said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 15, 2005 04:03 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions