Criminal Justice

Joe Gratz / https://www.flickr.com/photos/joegratz/117048243

The Owen County Prosecutor says he hasn’t decided whether to pursue the death penalty for the man accused of raping and killing one-year-old Shaylyn Ammerman.

In order for a case to qualify for the death penalty, it must meet at least one of 18 circumstances outlined by the General Assembly. One of those circumstances is murder of a child.

Assistant Executive Director of the Indiana Public Defender Council Paula Sites says fewer county prosecutors are pursuing capital punishment.

Pence Vetoes Private College Police Records Bill

Mar 24, 2016
Karin Beil / https://www.flickr.com/photos/kbeil/6807532616

Governor Mike Pence Thursday vetoed a bill aimed at requiring more transparency from private university police departments, but which Pence says does the opposite.

The bill would have declared private university police departments public agencies, but at the same time would only require them to disclose records about people they arrest or put in jail.

Governor Pence said in a statement that limiting access to private university police records is a disservice to the public, so he vetoed the bill.

New legislation awaiting the governor’s signature extends more privacy rights to sexual assault and domestic abuse victims on college campuses. Previously, a legal loophole that didn’t protect personal information given to victims’ advocates left some victims vulnerable.

Current law provides what’s called “testimonial privilege” to sexual assault and domestic violence victim advocates, such as people who work at rape crisis centers.  Democratic Representative Christina Hale says that means an advocate can’t be compelled to reveal a victim’s personal details in court.

Christian Schnettelker / https://www.flickr.com/photos/manoftaste-de/

The Indiana Court of Appeals says the University of Notre Dame’s security police department is a public agency and therefore should comply with open records requests.

But questions remain about what types of records the university must release.

The ruling is the latest decision in a lawsuit ESPN filed against Notre Dame last year for failing to hand over records the sports network requested.

ESPN had requested records from several universities as part of an inquiry into interactions between university police departments and student athletes.

VIEVU / http://www.vievu.com/

A bill regulating when police body camera videos are released to the public cleared one of its last major legislative hurdles Tuesday – the Senate passed the bill in a near-unanimous vote.

Sen. Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) says one of the biggest issues in the House version of the bill was the burden it placed on the public and the press to prove a police body cam video should be released to the public. 

The Senate switched that burden – now law enforcement would have to prove in a court that it shouldn’t.  Bray also notes the importance of what’s not in the bill.

Lafayette Police Thursday confirmed violent crime did, in fact, increase in the city in 2015.

“Where we saw probably our biggest jump in 2015 was in aggravated assaults," says Police Chief Pat Flannelly. "In 2015, we had 323, as compared to 219 in 2014.”

Flannelly notes the aggravated assaults, or attacks involving a weapon, account for most of a 115-incident, year-over-year increase in violent crime.

Joe Gratz / https://www.flickr.com/photos/joegratz/117048243

The Indiana Attorney General’s office has filed suit against three out-of-state companies accused of scamming tax delinquent property owners out of money and their homes.

Investigators say they noticed a pattern that revealed at least 48 property owners, mostly in Marion County, have been swindled.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a lawsuit Monday, alleging the companies are taking advantage of property owners who are late on their tax payments and don’t understand the tax sale process.

Kate Ter Haar / https://www.flickr.com/photos/katerha/

The ACLU and Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services will get increased access for monitoring the treatment of mentally ill inmates at state prisons. That’s part of the terms of a settlement the groups reached with the Department of Corrections.

Complete isolation for days or weeks can exacerbate mental illnesses, or even cause them. Now those inmates will not be placed in solitary confinement, instead getting regular screenings by prison staff and therapy.

Joe Gratz / https://www.flickr.com/photos/joegratz/117048243

Indiana is one of only five states without any hate crimes law.  Legislation unanimously approved Tuesday by a Senate committee would change that.

Sen. Sue Glick’s (R-LaGrange) bill would allow judges to inflict harsher penalties based on a person’s motivation for committing a crime – specifically, if they committed a crime with the intent to harm or intimidate someone based on that person’s race, religion, color, national origin, sex, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, or transgender status. 

Thomas Hawk / https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/

An inmate at the Putnamville Correctional Facility has died after a viral outbreak at the prison. Authorities are blaming a progressive virus that causes severe shortness of breath, fatigue, joint aches, coughing and sweating.

18 patients began to show the pneumonia-like symptoms last week. Nine were sent to the hospital after their symptoms got worse. One of those patients died, and another is on a ventilator.

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