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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Ind. Decisions - "Supreme Court to allow police testimony against Taylor"

Here is a lengthy story today by Kelley Smith of the Michigan City News-Dispatch on the decision yesterday by the Indiana Supreme Court in State of Indiana v. Brian J. Taylor, the LaPorte County police/prosecutors eavesdropping case (ILB summary of the decision here). Today's story begins:

MICHIGAN CITY – The 2014 murder case pending against Brian Jordan “BJ” Taylor likely will return to La Porte Superior Court No. 1 after the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Wednesday to allow the testimony of police officers presumed to have eavesdropped on a privileged conversation between Taylor and his defense attorney approximately an hour after his arrest.

Taylor, now 22, is accused of having killed his girlfriend, 24-year-old Simone Nicole Bush, at her grandparents’ Michigan City home on March 14, 2014. He was arrested later the same day by local law enforcement officers, who then illegally listened to Taylor discuss with defense attorney David Payne both trial strategy and case evidence – including the location of the .40-caliber Glock Model 22 handgun allegedly used to kill Bush.

During their depositions and a suppression hearing in the case, several officers invoked their Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves, refusing to answer whether they were present or what they may have heard in the conference room where police and a prosecutor reportedly listened secretly to a live audio feed as Taylor and Payne talked for 30 to 40 minutes.

Upon the defense’s assertion that their refusal to testify violated Taylor’s Sixth Amendment right to confront his accusers, Judge Kathleen Lang, who presided over La Porte Superior Court No. 1 at the time, ruled to exclude all testimony of any officers who had invoked or who had planned to invoke the Fifth Amendment.

Her decision crippled the state’s case, prompting prosecutors to file an interlocutory appeal with the Indiana Court of Appeals.

And because her order was issued on the 70th day after the incarcerated Taylor had requested a fast and speedy trial (what also was supposed to have been the first day of his jury trial), the state was forced to release him from the La Porte County Jail on his own recognizance until the case could be resolved.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 31, 2016 08:45 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions