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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Ind. Decisions - "Supreme Court refuses to reconsider lower court opinion that overturned manslaughter conviction"

The Anderson Herald Bulletin reported yesterday evening, in a story by Shawn McGrath:

Three months after the Indiana Court of Appeals threw out Ralph Barnett’s voluntary manslaughter conviction, he was officially released from custody on Friday.

Ralph Barnett, 55, Indianapolis, is a free man after the Indiana Supreme Court declined to reconsider the Appeals Court’s opinion, which overturned his conviction in May.

Barnett was sentenced to 30 additional years in prison on Class A felony voluntary manslaughter in March 2006 for stabbing to death fellow Pendleton Correctional Facility inmate 29-year-old Ricky L. Combs in January 1993. Originally charged with murder, a jury found him guilty of the lesser charge.

Anderson attorney Bryan Williams, who represented Barnett on the murder count, said he’s pleased the Supreme Court kept in place the lower court’s decision.

“Very,” Williams said late Friday, the day he learned of the Supreme Court’s decision. “For Ralph, that is what I’m happy about.”

Barnett, who is deaf, has been in declining health. He suffered a heart attack, stroke and diabetes while incarcerated, his attorney said.

The appeals court said in its opinion that the state erred in waiting 12 years to charge Barnett, effectively denying him his right to a fair trial because some evidence couldn’t be located and many witnesses were unavailable.

“It really was a due process issue, where, do to the passage of time, he couldn’t get a fair trial and the court of appeals recognized that,” Williams said. “It’s over. The Indiana Supreme Court was the last resort.

The Supreme Court's "transfer denied" determination may be found in Friday's transfer list, on page 3, second from the end. For background, start with this May 30th ILB entry, headed "More on yesterday's CA decision on murder charge filed 12 years later."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 9, 2007 01:15 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions