« Ind. Law - "Wine-shipping ruling adds holiday cheer" | Main | Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 3 today (and 14 NFP) »

Monday, December 03, 2007

Ind. Courts - Oral arguments this afternoon before 7th Circuit in Joseph E. Corcoran’s death penalty case

Rebecca S. Green of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports today in a story that begins:

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office will ask a federal appeals court today to reinstate quadruple-murderer Joseph E. Corcoran’s death penalty that was thrown out this year

In April, U.S. District Judge Allen Sharp overturned the death sentence imposed in 1999 after a jury convicted the then-22-year-old Corcoran of four counts of murder. In July 1997, Corcoran shot and killed his brother, James Corcoran, 30; his sister’s fiancé, Robert Scott Turner, 32; and two of his brother’s friends – Timothy G. Bricker, 30; and Douglas A. Stillwell, 30 – at a Bayer Avenue home.

Even though he found Corcoran’s habeas corpus request “seriously untimely,” Sharp’s 34-page ruling said that then-Allen County Prosecutor Robert Gevers inappropriately punished Corcoran by pursuing the death penalty against Corcoran after he declined to face a trial before a judge and chose to allow a jury decide his fate.

Though Sharp’s ruling did not grant Corcoran a new trial, it removed the death penalty and sent the case back to an Allen County judge to again pass sentence – this time to a term of life in prison without parole or to a set number of years.

“It is the holding of this court that the prosecution unconstitutionally penalized (Corcoran) by seeking the death penalty when (Corcoran) refused to consent to the prosecution’s offer to forgo the death penalty in exchange for (Corcoran’s) consent to waive a jury trial and proceed with a determination of guilty by the judge,” Sharp wrote.

Attorney General Steve Carter decided to appeal Sharp’s decision and the matter is now to be heard by the 7th Circuit of U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago. Each side will get 30 minutes to present oral arguments before a panel of three judges this afternoon.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 3, 2007 12:01 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions