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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ind. Decisions - "COA ruling reverses child molest verdict"

Yesterday's COA ruling in Larry Cox v. State of Indiana (ILB summary here, 3rd case) is the subject of a story in today's Lafayette Journal Courier, reported by Sophia Voravong. Some quotes:

[T]he Indiana Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed the convictions against Larry R. Cox, 42, of Crawfordsville, who was found guilty in October 2009 of 15 counts of child molestation -- 10 Class A felonies and five Class C felonies -- following a jury trial in Tippecanoe Superior Court 2.

The high court's reason: Jurors should not have been allowed to watch the alleged victim's videotaped interview with a prosecutor's investigator when that same boy took the witness stand at trial, before the video was played in the courtroom.

"He did not testify to the facts of the allegations because the state chose instead to play the video," said Lafayette attorney Dan Moore, who represented Cox on appeal.

"It was an unsworn statement. The state can't have it both ways."

More specifically, Cox's appeal was based on an Indiana Supreme Court opinion issued in March 2009 that addressed the state's protected person statute.

That statute allows statements or videotapes as evidence if a witness is not available to testify or if testifying in front of the defendant would cause serious emotional distress -- making the witness unable to "reasonably communicate."

Indiana considers children younger than 15 protected persons.

The supreme court's March 2009 ruling, which dealt with a child molestation case from Ripley County, determined that the combination of live, direct testimony and a videotaped statement could be unfairly prejudicial to a defendant.

The high court further noted that the protected person statute should be rarely used.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 24, 2010 01:45 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions