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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 2 today (and 4 NFP)

For publication opinions today (2):

In David Sasser v. State of Indiana , a 9-page opinion, Judge Baker writes:

The defendant herein claims that he attempted to register as a sex offender on multiple occasions but for various reasons—a detective’s mistaken advice, computers that were down, and a non-returned voicemail — was never successful in doing so. The detective who dealt with the defendant has a different version of events. Although it was for the jury to assess the credibility of these witnesses, the fact that this case turned on credibility means that the admission of evidence of the defendant’s prior convictions for failure to register was fundamental error. Consequently, we reverse.

Appellant-defendant David Sasser appeals his conviction for Failure to Register as a Convicted Sex Offender While Having a Prior Conviction, a class C felony. Sasser raises a number of arguments, one of which is dispositive: that the trial court erred by admitting evidence regarding Sasser’s prior convictions for failing to register. Finding that the admission of that evidence was fundamental error, but also finding sufficient evidence supporting the conviction, we reverse and remand for a new trial. * * *

It is apparent that much, if not all, of this case boils down to an assessment of witness credibility. And that is a task for the jurors, who viewed all of the testimony and apparently found Detective Haltom’s version of events to be a more credible one than Sasser’s. We cannot and will not second-guess the jurors’ decision in this regard, and we find that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. Therefore, although we reverse based on the admission of the evidence discussed above, we also remand for a new trial.

In Jerrell D. White v. State of Indiana , an 11-page opinion, Judge Baker writes:
The defendant herein was convicted of theft for stealing a cash register and cash from a restaurant. He was also convicted of receiving stolen property for divvying up that cash with his accomplice. We find that the two convictions violate the prohibition against double jeopardy. Additionally, we find that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was a habitual offender because one of his alleged prior felonies was committed when he was fifteen years old and the State offered no evidence to show he was charged and convicted as an adult. Consequently, we reverse in part and remand with instructions. * * *

We find that White’s convictions violate double jeopardy and that there is insufficient evidence supporting the habitual offender finding. We also find, however, that the evidence supporting the theft conviction is sufficient and that the remaining three-year sentence thereon is not inappropriate. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand with instructions to vacate the receiving stolen property conviction, the habitual offender finding, and the sentences previously imposed for those two counts.

NFP civil opinions today (1):

Thomas P. Burke v. American General Financial Services, Inc. (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (3):

Joshua Murrell v. State of Indiana (NFP)

James D. Imel, Jr. v. State of Indiana (NFP)

William C. Lansford v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 9, 2011 11:15 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions