Indiana Supreme Court reinstates involuntary manslaughter conviction

LA PORTE COUNTY, Ind. -- The Indiana Supreme Court has reinstated the involuntary manslaughter conviction of John Larkin in the death of his wife Stacy in 2012.

Larkin's case has been through the appeals process multiple times since his wife was shot to death in December 2012.

In September 2019, Larkin was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. In November 2020, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned that conviction arguing the jury should not have been instructed on involuntary manslaughter because it was not a lesser or included offense of voluntary manslaughter.

The appeals court overturned his conviction and ordered a finding of acquittal.

Tuesday the Indiana Supreme Court overturned the appeals court's decision and reinstated Larkin's involuntary manslaughter conviction.

The supreme court found involuntary manslaughter was a factually included lesser offense because the state alleged all of the elements of involuntary manslaughter in the charging documents. Involuntary manslaughter requires a battery that "incidentally" kills the victim. Larkin committed battery when he shot his wife and when he pushed his wife, according to the court decision.

Another point addressed by the court was the allegation Larkin did not receive fair notice of the involuntary manslaughter charge. The court says Larkin admitted to pushing Stacy with the gun, causing it to discharge. Larkin admitted to the battery that led to Stacy's death - and the state used his admission against him, the supreme court said.

The supreme court also found the state presented sufficient evidence to refute Larkin's self defense claim and the court didn't abuse its discretion by denying Larkin's motion to dismiss due to prosecutorial misconduct because the state failed to disclose his handgun was defective.

The decision was not unanimous. One of the justices issued a dissent, saying if the state wants involuntary manslaughter as a lesser included offense, "it should clearly and plainly allege a battery in the charging information."

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