Appeals Court reaffirms Harris ruling
Wednesday, November 06, 2013 10:00 AM
The Indiana Court of Appeals on Monday reaffirmed an August ruling regarding double jeopardy for a man facing charges in Jefferson County.
The Court of Appeals granted a motion for a rehearing on the issues in the appeal of Gregory Harris based on a recent Supreme Court ruling.
A jury acquitted Harris of a rape charge in September 2011, but was unable to reach a verdict on a sexual misconduct charge, resulting in the court declaring a mistrial.
After the trial ended, prosecutors filed a motion to amend the sexual misconduct charge to include the words "deviate sexual conduct." The judge denied that request. Harris filed a motion to dismiss the case on double jeopardy grounds, which was also denied.
The Court of Appeals upheld the judge's decision on both matters. But the Indiana Supreme Court issued a ruling on double jeopardy laws 15 days after the Harris ruling was issued. The sides requested a new hearing based on the new information.
In the Supreme Court case, Juan Garrett had been found not guilty of rape, criminal confinement and criminal deviate conduct, but the jury had been hung on another rape charge and another criminal confinement charge. Upon a trial before the judge, he was found guilty of rape and not guilty of criminal confinement.
Garrett argued that the prosecutors had used evidence of the first rape charge to support a conviction in the second charge, a violation of the double jeopardy statute that says no one can be tried for the same charge twice. The Supreme Court agreed.
In the original appeal, Harris argued that since the jury acquitted him of rape, prosecutors could not refile charges against him for sexual misconduct because the same evidence was used to prove both counts. Angela Sanchez, the deputy attorney general who argued the case, said in her brief there was a clear distinction between the two charges.
"It is reasonable and rational that a fact finder may conclude that sexual intercourse was not forced, thus not rape, but still criminal because of the age of the parties, and those verdicts would not offend the constitution," she wrote.
The Court of Appeals once again upheld the judge's denial of the two motions.