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Friday, February 07, 2014

Ind. Courts - "Supreme Court considers whether jury-bias claim led to murder confession"

One of the three cases argued yesterday (Thursday) before the Indiana Supreme Court, McLynnerd Bond, Jr. v. State of Indiana, is the subject of a story today by Dan Carden in the the NWI Times. Some quotes:

On Feb. 13, 2011, McLynnerd Bond Jr., now 28, was questioned by Detective Edward Gonzalez for more than three hours about the 2007 murder of Kadmiel Mahone, 28, who was shot in the head and neck in an apartment in the 4200 block of West 23rd Place in Gary.

According to court records, Bond repeatedly denied killing Mahone until Gonzalez told Bond, who is black, that if he went to trial there would be no one "from your part of the hood" on the jury, just 12 white or Hispanic people "from Schererville or Crown Point."

"They're not gonna put people on there who are from your neck of the woods. You know that. They're not gonna be the ones to decide what happens to you. You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that," Gonzalez said. "All they’re gonna see is, oh, look at this, another young (expletive) who didn’t give a (expletive). Don’t let them see that."

Thomas Vanes, Bond's attorney, urged the state's high court to set a bright-line rule that such invidious appeals to racial prejudice during police interrogation are inappropriate, and declare anything that follows, such as Bond's confession, cannot be used in court.

Chief Justice Brent Dickson, a Hobart native, asked whether the appeal must be racial in tone, or whether any instigation by police that the judicial system is biased constitutes grounds for tossing a confession.

Vanes said the racial aspect is so offensive it must be seen as a violation of due process.

He said if a judge told a defendant considering a jury trial or bench trial that the jury would view the accused through a racial lens, that judge's actions would be condemned by the Supreme Court.

Deputy Attorney General Ian McLean, representing the prosecution, argued that Gonzalez's comments were not racist, but intended to get Bond to relate to the detective, as both grew up with friends involved in criminal activity — something people without that experience might not understand.

"It was not a threat that you will be subject to a legal lynching," McLean said. "His jury was not going to be people who dealt drugs, people who carried guns."

McLean added that no matter how the detective's remarks are understood, Bond was advised of his right to remain silent and to an attorney but still made the decision to voluntarily confess to murder.

Bond's murder trial is on hold until this appeal is resolved.

Lake Superior Judge Diane Ross Boswell and the Indiana Court of Appeals both condemned Gonzalez's comments but concluded Bond's confession was not coerced.

ILB: You may view the oral argument here, as well access the Court of Appeals opinion. Of interest is that the 2-1 COA decision was designated Not for Publication by the panel, and that the dissent wrote: "Yet each time courts allow such conduct, they implicitly sanction it and encourage the next police officer in the next interrogation to go a bit further, to be more offensive, more racist and more deceptive."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 7, 2014 09:18 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts