Thursday, August 09, 2007
Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court posts two
The Indiana Supreme Court has posted two decisions, both dated Aug. 8th:
In Michael Robertson v. State of Indiana, a 10-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Boehm writes:
We hold that under the sentencing laws from April 25, 2005, a court imposing a sentence to run consecutively to another sentence is not limited to the advisory sentence. Rather, the court may impose any sentence within the applicable range. * * *In Philip Littler v. State of Indiana, a 5-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Dickson writes:
Where the use of some aggravators violates Blakely and others do not, we will remand for resentencing unless we can say with confidence that the trial court would have imposed the same sentence if it considered only the proper aggravators. McCann v. State, 749 N.E.2d 1116, 1121 (Ind. 2001) (citing Wooley v. State, 716 N.E.2d 919, 933 (Ind. 1999); Angleton v. State, 686 N.E.2d 803, 817 (Ind. 1997)). Given that Robertson had one prior conviction and one probation violation that occurred within two years of his offense, we conclude that the trial court would have imposed the same sentence based solely on these permissible aggravating factors. The trial court did not err in enhancing Robertson’s sentence.
Eighteen-year-old Neal Littler died from a gunshot injury suffered in a fight with his twin brother, defendant Philip Littler. Convicted of Neal's murder, Philip's direct appeal challenges the trial court's exclusion of their mother's testimony regarding Neal's prior conduct. The Court of Appeals affirmed in a memorandum opinion. We granted transfer and now reverse. * * *The AP has a report headed "Court overturns man's conviction for killing twin brother."
The mother's testimony confirming Neal's numerous prior stabbings, his mental condition, and his history of violent behavior would be very probative and relevant to the jury's evaluation of the objective reasonableness of Philip's belief that he needed to use force against Neal and would also lend substantial credibility to Philip's assertions. We cannot conclude that the exclusion of the mother's testimony did not affect Philip's substantial rights. The harmless error doctrine does not apply here, and we reverse Philip's conviction.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 9, 2007 12:49 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions