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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court issues one opinion this morning, reversing COA's reading of Criminal Rule 4(C)

In Robert Jeffrey Pelley v. State, an 18-page, 5-0 opinion issued today, with the Court granting transfer with opinion, Justice Boehm writes:

Robert Jeffrey Pelley appeals his convictions for the murders of his father, stepmother, and two stepsisters. We affirm Pelley‘s convictions. We hold that the Criminal Rule 4(C) period does not include the time for the State‘s interlocutory appeal when trial court proceedings have been stayed. We also hold that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions, and the trial court did not err in its challenged evidentiary rulings or in denying Pelley‘s motion for a special prosecutor.

In 2007, a jury found Pelley guilty of the 1989 murders of his father, stepmother, and two stepsisters. The convictions were based on circumstantial evidence supporting the State‘s theory that Pelley, who had been grounded from events connected to his high school senior prom, killed his father in order to attend those activities with his girlfriend, and killed his step-mother and stepsisters because they were present when he killed his father. Pelley was sentenced to consecutive forty-year sentences, for an aggregate sentence of one hundred sixty years. Pelley appealed his convictions, raising four claimed errors:

I. Denial of his motion for discharge under Criminal Rule 4(C) because he was not tried within one year after his arrest due to the State‘s interlocutory appeal;
II. Insufficient evidence to support the convictions;
III. Admission of certain hearsay statements and exclusion of evidence regarding a third-party motive and the prosecutor‘s delay in bringing charges; and
IV. Denial of Pelley‘s petition for a special prosecutor.

The Court of Appeals reversed Pelley‘s convictions on the first issue and therefore did not address the remaining three. Pelley v. State, 883 N.E.2d 874, 876 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008). [See 4/8/08 ILB summary here] We granted transfer and affirm the trial court on all four issues. We set out the facts and procedural steps relevant to each issue in the following sections.

The ILB has had a long list of entries on this case, access them here.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 19, 2009 10:14 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions