« About the ILB - Another ILB birthday, and another plea, please read! | Main | Ind. Decisions - Another Supreme Court disciplinary opinion posted »

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 today (and 8 NFP)

For publication opinions today (1):

In Martin Meehan v. State of Indiana , an 11-page opinion, Judge Crone writes:

Martin Meehan was convicted of burglary and being a habitual offender. The only evidence tying Meehan to the crime was a glove found at the crime scene that contained his DNA. On appeal, Meehan argues that there was insufficient evidence that he was the perpetrator, that the trial court erred by allowing the State to file an untimely habitual offender charge, and that the trial court erred by ordering his sentence to be served consecutively to another sentence with a habitual offender enhancement. Because there was no evidence that would support an inference that Meehan’s DNA was found on the glove because he handled it during the burglary, as opposed to some other time, we conclude that the burglary verdict was based on speculation and must be reversed. Because we are reversing the underlying conviction, we do not reach the issues that Meehan raises regarding the habitual offender enhancement. * * *

In sum, in all the cases discussed, there was eyewitness or circumstantial evidence that explained how the DNA or fingerprint evidence ended up at the crime scene. In these cases, the totality of the circumstances made it unlikely that there was an innocent explanation for the presence of the DNA or fingerprint evidence at the scene.

In many cases, DNA is compelling evidence of identity. In this case, however, there was no evidence that would support an inference that Meehan’s DNA was found on the glove because he handled it during the burglary, as opposed to some other time. Therefore, the guilty verdict was based on speculation and must be reversed. As our supreme court has said, a conviction “may not be based on guess or speculation.” Smith v. State, 256 Ind. 546, 551, 270 N.E.2d 743, 745 (1971). Were we to affirm, we would be creating a precedent that would make it relatively easy for criminals to frame other individuals; all they would need to do is obtain an object with someone else’s DNA and leave it at the crime scene. We reverse Meehan’s conviction for burglary and the resulting habitual offender enhancement.

NFP civil opinions today (2):

Jessica and Gerson Urbina v. Tina Klinkose-Kyler, Laronda Southworth and A Bond of Life Adoptions, LLC (NFP)

Richard J. Bond v. Knox County Drainage Board and Dick Vermillion, As Knox County Surveyor (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (6):

James Edwin Goris v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Walter Fisk v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Antonio A. Burgos, Sr. v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Charles E. Justise, Sr. v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Brenda Varo v. State of Indiana (NFP)

E. Paul Haste v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 25, 2013 10:57 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions