INDIANAPOLIS — An appeal by Kyle DeHart asking for his conviction to be overturned and a new trial was denied by the Court of Appeals of Indiana. The ruling was filed early Monday, July 10. DeHart can appeal this decision to the Indiana Supreme Court.
DeHart is serving 110 years for the murder of Tara Thornburg and Josh Knisley Feb. 19, 2015, in Syracuse.
Judge Terry A. Crone wrote the decision, which was concurred by Judges John G. Baker and Michael P Barnes.
The document states:
• DeHart’s convictions are supported by sufficient evidence.
• The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying DeHart’s motion for a separate trial.
• The trial court did not commit reversible error in admitting evidence regarding rap songs
• The trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting evidence regarding Woody’s rap performance with a handgun.
Throughout the 19 page, 29 paragraph decision, the justices cited case law and discussed the various case law referred to in the appeal.
“DeHart’s argument is essentially an elaborate invitation to reweigh evidence and judge witness credibility, especially that of (Thomas) Hursey, the only eyewitness to testify about DeHeart’s involvement in the crimes. DeHart harps on Hursey’s initial denial of his and the others’ culpability, his history as a confidential informant and his possible motives for testifying against his accomplices. The jury was made aware of all that and chose to believe Hursey’s trial testimony regarding the murders and obstruction of justice. Contrary to DeHart’s assertion, this testimony was not equivocal, inconsistent or inherently improbable and key aspects of it were supported by circumstantial evidence. Consequently, we reject DeHart’s incredible dubiosity claim. In accordance with our standard of review, we must decline DeHart’s invitation to second-guess Hursey’s credibility and the jury’s verdicts.”
Additionally under the discussion regarding the separate trial, the justices stated “DeHart has failed to establish that he was actually prejudiced by the joint trial and therefore we find no abuse of discretion in the denial of his motion for a separate trial.”
Justices also noted “We note that (Tara) Thornburg, who had known Woody since high school, identified him as the person who shot her and (Josh) Knisley. Both (Jacob) Larkin and Hursey placed DeHart with (Brandon) Woody after 11 p.m. on the night of the murders, contrary to the alibi testimony given by DeHart’s father. Hursey testified to DeHart’s participation in the robbery and his efforts to hide or destroy evidence of the crimes and police found a pair of shoes on the side of the road and a pile of burnt clothing and shoes at DeHart’s house. The day after the murders, Woody was found in a vehicle registered to DeHart’s mother. In light of all this, we are satisfied that there is no substantial likelihood that the erroneously admitted evidence contributed to DeHart’s convictions.”
The justices also noted DeHart’s reference to a case where a court abused its discretion in admitting a handgun and bullets found in a defendant’s vehicle because there was no evidence a handgun was used to abduct or murder the victim, who had been strangled, were unpersuasive in this matter. “The evidence established that both Thornburg and Knisley were killed by a firearm; that Woody told Hursey that his handgun jammed and dropped several rounds on the floor, which were recovered by the police; and that Woody dropped the handgun in a trash can after the murders.
“DeHart also suggests that the testimony’s probative value was substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice because he was not in the room with Woody during the rap performance. (John) VanderReyden’s testimony regarding the performance may have been prejudicial to DeHart, but DeHart has failed to establish that it was unfairly so, let alone that any unfair prejudice substantially outweighed the testimony’s probative value. The state never argued that DeHart murdered Thornburg and Knisely, only that he committed or attempted to commit a robbery during which they were killed. Therefore we affirm DeHart’s convictions.”