Layman, Sparks and Sharp File Briefs with the Indiana Supreme Court
Blake Layman, Levi Sparks and Anthony Sharp have now all appealed their felony murder conviction to the Indiana Supreme Court. This is the logical next step after the ruling of the Indiana Court of Appeals that saw their sentences reduced to the minimum, but did not reverse the convictions.
In the case of Layman and Sparks their appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court has been supported by the Juvenile Law Center and the Indiana Public Defender Council who have both submitted supportive briefs.
Supporters of the Elkhart 4 have known for a while that this case was probably headed to the Indiana Supreme Court, if not the US Supreme Court.
We now wait for briefs from the State. The Indiana Supreme Court will then make a decision if they are going to hear the cases.
Blake Layman and Levi Sparks have their appeals tied together because they are both able to include arguments about age in their appeals. Anthony Sharp has to appeal separately because he was 18 in October 2012 and is unable to include age in his appeals.
In Anthony Sharp’s appeal before the Indiana Court of Appeals all three judges agreed that the conviction was fine, but also agreed to reduce the sentences.
The situation was very different in the case of Layman and Sparks. Each of the three judges had a very different take on the case.
- Judge Bailey write the opinion that the felony murder rule as applied was justified based on Indiana Law.
- Judge May agreed with Jude Bailey that the felony murder rule was legally applied but Judge May believes that the Indiana Supreme Court should re-evaluate the way the law was applied because of the juvenile status of Layman and Sparks. Judge May begins her opinion stating,
“While I reluctantly agree a jury could find Layman and Sparks guilty of felony murder even though neither they nor their accomplices killed anyone, I write separately to address whether Layman and Sparks waived their constitutional issues they raise. I write also to express my serious concerns about the felony murder statute and how it was applied in the case before us, and to suggest an approach to its application that I believe is more in line with recent Indiana and United States Supreme Court decisions.
- Judge Kirsch in his opinion does not even believe this case constitutes felony murder.
Given such diverse opinions expressed by the judges, we hope the Supreme Court hears the cases. If the case is heard we expect the ruling to be very interesting.
Here is the documentation of the filing in the Layman/Sparks case before the Indiana Supreme Court.