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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides two today

In Kevin Charles Isom v. State of Indiana, a 5-0, 30-page opinion, Justice Rucker writes:

After a trial by jury Kevin Charles Isom was found guilty of three counts of murder for which the jury recommended and the trial court imposed a death sentence. In this direct appeal Isom raises the following rephrased issues: (1) did the trial court err by denying Isom’s for-cause challenges to certain prospective jurors; (2) did the trial court err in denying Isom’s motions for mistrial; (3) did the trial court abuse its discretion in instructing the jury; (4) did the trial court err by refusing to allow a witness to answer a question posed by a juror; (5) did the State commit prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments in the penalty phase of trial; (6) is revision of Isom’s death sentence warranted; and (7) did the trial court issue an illegal or void sentence. We affirm Isom’s conviction and death sentence, but remand with instructions to issue a new sentencing order consistent with this opinion. * * *

A trial court cannot impose consecutive sentences in the absence of express statutory authority. Mask v. State * * *

Accordingly, “the death penalty is not ‘a term of imprisonment’” within the meaning of I.C. § 35-50-1-2. Id. In consequence the trial court here exceeded its statutory authority by ordering Isom’s death sentences to be served consecutively.

We affirm Isom’s convictions and remand this cause to the trial court with instructions to issue a new sentencing order consistent with this opinion.

In Roy Bell v. State of Indiana, an 8-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Rucker writes:
Twenty-four-year-old Roy E. Bell was charged in a multi-count information with murder, felony murder, burglary, robbery, and criminal confinement. The State also sought life imprisonment without parole. After a bench trial Bell was found guilty as charged, and the trial court sentenced him to life imprisonment for the murder conviction. In addition the trial court sentenced Bell to a term of years for the burglary and robbery convictions. Bell now appeals challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his murder conviction. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 20, 2015 09:56 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions