Friday, August 23, 2013

Should he have . . . "stood his ground?"

Adam Layne is twenty seven years old, and is apparently no angel.  He has two prior unrelated felony convictions.  One more and he is also looking at Indiana's habitual offender enhancement.  For a B felony or above, that's ten to thirty years.  Charged with murder, and the habitual added, he was facing a minimum of fifty-five years of convicted of both, with a maximum of ninety five years.  Given his prior record, he was likely looking at about seventy years, depending on what the judge would hear at sentencing.

His appearance doesn't help him with some people.

You can read the whole article here.  Now, tell me the truth: how many of you had even heard of this case down in Anderson, Indiana?
On Dec. 9, 2012, Layne stabbed Willie Rumph, 23, of Anderson, in self-defense during an argument over money at Layne’s home in the 1600 block of Lincoln Street. Rumph had forced his way into the home that evening and demanded drug money owed him by a member of Layne's family. 
After a heated discourse between Rumph, Layne and his ex-fiance Sara Smith, Layne stabbed Rumph with a kitchen knife on the house's porch area. Layne and Smith, who was pregnant with Layne's child, were watching TV when they heard Rumph rap on a window. Layne and defense attorney Jimmy McDole maintained for months that Layne acted in self-defense to protect himself and his family.

After a six day trial that ended yesterday [Thursday, August 23rd], it took about two and one-half hours for a jury of twelve evenly split with men and women, to find Mr. Layne, "not guilty."
During post-trial conferences, several jurors said they might have convicted Layne of a lesser charge, but following the principle of reasonable doubt, couldn't justify a charge of murder.
"This guy was put in a bad situation," said one juror. "I'm not sure any of us wouldn't have done the same."
Now, Mr. Layne's ex-fiance, Sara Smith, testified during the trial.
Smith described much of what has already been confirmed: Rumph came to the home looking for drug money allegedly owed to him by Layne's mother. An argument ensued among Rumph, Layne and Smith, which eventually led to a physical altercation between the two men. 
Ultimately, Layne used a large kitchen knife to stab Rumph on the porch area of the home.
According to police reports, Rumph, covered in blood, made his way back to his vehicle and drove himself a few blocks to St. Vincent Hospital where he was found limping by an off-duty police officer. He died a few hours later in surgery, but was able to provide doctors and police information about the attack. 
Prosecutors said Rumph actually didn’t know Layne, but he was able to describe being stabbed by a man with distinctive facial tattoos like the ones sported by Layne. 
While Layne and McDole haven't disputed the stabbing, they have maintained Layne was acting in self-defense against the physically larger Rumph. 
Smith testified Rumph knocked on a window that evening, then barged his way into the house and demanded money. She said Layne tried to defuse the situation and tried to contact his mother by phone. Smith said at one point, on the porch, she stood directly in front of Rumph and got into a shouting match with the man. 
This is when Layne made his move. She said the defendant punched Rumph from behind, and the two began fighting. Smith didn't witness the actual stabbing, but said she saw blood splatter onto the side of the house, and Layne came to her and proclaimed he had stabbed the man.
McDole called into question Smith's honesty, confirming that she had lied to police on several points during separate interviews. After the incident, Layne and Smith left the home and went to see two friends, Sarah Cunningham and Jason Weaver. The four agreed to lie about the details of the incident so Layne could claim self-defense, according to Smith. 
McDole asked her if she even knew what the truth was. 
Chambers countered by confirming her testimony that Layne made the first move, stabbed Rumph and told her to lie about the details.
Now, it's not as open and shut as one may have thought.  And look at what jurors said: that they'd have convicted Layne of SOMETHING LESSER.  But the State decided to go long; to go . . . for . . . broke.

And they lost.  Had they, perhaps, charged voluntary or involuntary manslaughter,that habitual was still there to tack on time.  Voluntary manslaughter [essentially murder but under "sudden heat] with a deadly weapon, carries a range of twenty to fifty years, with an "advisory," or starting point, of thirty years.  Had they convicted on that charge, there's little doubt that Layne would have received at least thirty on the voluntary, and ten to twenty more on the habitual, for a total of about forty to fifty years..  Depending on the judge, maybe the whole thirty on the habitual.

Involuntary, a C felony, carries a range of two to eight years, with an advisory of four.  The habitual for a C felony conviction ranges from an extra four to an extra twelve years.  Again, substantially conjecturing, Layne would have likely gotten at least six years on the C, and likely eight or so on the habitual enhancement.  Again, without knowing all the background and the judge, I'll hazard a guess that he'd have gotten around fourteen, with a good chance of up to eighteen.

And now he's free.  Twelve Americans [at least I think they were all Americans] listened to six days of arguments and testimony, and made their decision.

I'd really like to know the race of the late Mr. Rumph.  May have made the case a bit more . . . interesting.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Child molesting . . . how much evidence do you want?

Have an upcoming child molest trial.  Well, probably two trials.

Five year old has been having yeast infections for three years.  Mother has been taking her to the doctor all that time.  Doctor says child doesn't keep her area . . . clean . . . and that's what's causing the discomfort.  Mother says child "wiggles" in discomfort but, no, NEVER scratches. Over the years, mother regularly asks child about "bad" touched.  Child denies.  Over and over and over.

One fine October day, five year old comes home from grandma and grandpa's, and REALLY starts fidgeting.  Mother takes her bottoms off and notices . . . redness.  Asks if anyone touched her.  Child denies.

Two days later, child returns from school, complaining about pain and trouble urinating.  Mother takes her bottoms off again, and notices . . . more redness and sores.  "Did anyone touch you?"  Child denies.  Mother insistently repeats.  Finally, five year old caves and says, "grandpa."

Mother takes child to ER.  Doctor suspects herpes.  Department of Family & Children called in. Cops called in.  DFC social worker asks that all members of five year old's family be tested for herpes.  Every single one tests positive.

Doctor says, "someone" had to touch her . . . "there" . . .  to give her herpes . . . "there."  [Well, ummmm, since she's had cold sores, couldn't she have touched herself . . . "there" . . . while scratching another of the plethora of yeast infections?  Naw, nobody thinks of that.]

Forensic interview with "trained" [well, semi-trained . . . I've dealt with her before] detective NINE DAYS LATER.  Mother denies talking to child, per instructions of DFC social worker and detective assigned to case.  Nineteen year old son [half-brother of five year old] testifies under oath during deposition that mother is questioning and going over five year old's "story" night before the interview.  For an hour.  Mother, naturally, denies ever discussing it with five year old prior to interview.  Under oath.

Now it gets good.  Five year old has 16 year, 11 month old half-sister.  For years, both five year old's father [father of the almost 17 year old] and step-mom and birth mother [divorced from father] have been asking the teenager if she's EVER been touched.  Every single time, for years, she's denied it.  For almost three full weeks, every adult in the family is bugging big sis, asking her, "Did grandpa touch you?  Ever?"  No. No.  No.  A hundred times . . . NO.

Finally, just before Halloween on her 17th birthday, in the evening, all the parents and other family have a veritable intervention, pretty much surrounding the now 17 year old and incessantly asking her, "Did grandpa touch you, too?"

Ultimately, you guessed it . . . she says . . . yes.  Says it happened in . . . about the years 1999 or 2000.  When she would have been about 4 or 5.  But she can't give details.  She can't remember.  She blocked it out.  She tells her step-mom, the five year old's mother, that it happened "a couple of times."  That's what step-mom says, under oath.

She tells her birth mother it happened "three or four times."  That's what birth mom swears to, under oath.

They keep on pushing.  They keep asking to "try to remember."  They remind her that she practically lived with grandma and grandpa until age 9.  In a forensic interview two weeks later, she tells a trained [much better] detective that it happened "several" times.

A month later, she's questioned by the lead detective in a police interrogation room.  How many times did it happen, she's asked.  "Over a hundred."

So there you have it.  Two wholly uncorroborated stories . . . one from a five year old who communicates more with her fingers and hands than with her mouth . . . and one from a 17 year old eight to twelve years after the alleged event(s) occurred.

Oh, wait.  Gets better.  Mother of five year old says that, after the forensic interview by the five year old, in early November, she later asks her [can't remember when, but about a week to three weeks] if granda touched her with anything else, other than his hand.  Kid, according to mom, sticks out her tongue.  So that means, grandpa put his tongue on her privates, right?  I mean, it couldn't mean the kid was just sticking her tongue out and playing, right?

Why isn't it in the police report?  Mom insists she called the detective and told him.  But in a twelve page, single-spaced narrative of his investigation, that ends after the December interrogation of the 17 year old, nary a mention of it.

You're a juror.  What say you?