Court upholds conviction in murder of Theresa Burns

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of Phillip Geans in the murder of Theresa Burns in 1988 in Mishawaka.

Geans appealed his conviction on two issues. He alleged the trial court abused its discretion when it denied his motion to exclude witnesses from testifying at his trial and when it denied his motion for a mistrial.

The first allegation involves Geans request for the transcripts of a grand jury proceeding that happened in 1988 in the murder of Burns.

The transcripts could not be located, so Geans filed a motion to prevent the people who testified in the grand jury from testifying in his trial.

His motion was denied before his trial.

The appellate court reviewed the decisions and found the court did not err by allowing the witness testimony.

The justices stated a defendant is entitled to disclosure of grand jury testimony when he can show a 'particularized need' for the testimony.

The grand jury in 1988 did not indict Geans and he was not being tried for perjury so he was not entitled to the transcript of the grand jury proceedings, the court stated.

The other issue involved in the appeal was the denial of Geans' motion for a mistrial.

He alleged the trial court erred by not granting a mistrial because the court informed the jury during Geans' cross examination of a witness that an attorney's question is not evidence and is not relevant unless answered in a direct way.

The court ruled the lower court did not err in not granting a mistrial because the judge is allowed to intervene in order to promote clarity, according to the appellate decision.

Click here to read ABC57's coverage of Theresa Burns' murder

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