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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ind. Decisions - Another opinion today from Supreme Court

In James A. Carr v. State of Indiana, an 18-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Dickson writes:

Appealing his conviction for Murder, the defendant alleges four errors: (1) denial of his motion for discharge under Indiana Criminal Rule 4; (2) admission of his statement to a police detective despite his repeated invocation of his right to counsel; (3) limitations on defense questioning of the police detective; and (4) refusal of tendered instructions regarding lesser included offenses. The Court of Appeals affirmed in a memorandum decision. We granted transfer and now reverse and remand for new trial.

The defendant was convicted following a jury trial for the November 4, 2006, murder of Roy Allen Shaffer at Kewanna, Fulton County, Indiana. The killing occurred when the defendant fired his shotgun directly into the victim's face during an argument between the two men. The defendant then drove to a bar in Monterey, Indiana, and admitted the killing to the bartender, stating, "I shot Allen [Shaffer] . . . he wouldn't tell me the truth and I just, I just shot him," Tr. at 324, and "I pulled the trigger," id. at 326. The defendant, while in police custody, further de-scribed the incident during an ensuing videotaped police interview the day after the crime. * * *

While concluding that the defendant was not entitled to discharge under Criminal Rule 4, we hold that his custodial statements, taken by police in disregard of his invocation of his right to counsel, were erroneously admitted and that such error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, thus requiring a reversal of the conviction and remand for retrial.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 29, 2010 02:02 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions