Citations Affected: IC 35-50-2-9.
Synopsis: Imposition of death sentence by the court. Prohibits the
court from imposing a death sentence if the jury is unable to agree on
a sentence recommendation during the penalty phase.
Effective: July 1, 2006.
January 9, 2006, read first time and referred to Committee on Judiciary.
A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning
criminal law and procedure.
consecutive or concurrent sentencing, and the availability of good time
credit and clemency. The court shall instruct the jury that, in order for
the jury to recommend to the court that the death penalty or life
imprisonment without parole should be imposed, the jury must find at
least one (1) aggravating circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt as
described in subsection
(k) (l) and shall provide a special verdict form
for each aggravating circumstance alleged. The defendant may present
any additional evidence relevant to:
(1) the aggravating circumstances alleged; or
(2) any of the mitigating circumstances listed in subsection (c).
(e) For a defendant sentenced after June 30, 2002, except as provided by IC 35-36-9, if the hearing is by jury, the jury shall recommend to the court whether the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole, or neither, should be imposed. The jury may recommend:
(1) the death penalty; or
(2) life imprisonment without parole;
only if it makes the findings described in subsection (l). If the jury reaches a sentencing recommendation, the court shall sentence the defendant accordingly. After a court pronounces sentence, a representative of the victim's family and friends may present a statement regarding the impact of the crime on family and friends. The impact statement may be submitted in writing or given orally by the representative. The statement shall be given in the presence of the defendant.
(f) If a jury is unable to agree on a sentence recommendation after reasonable deliberations, the court shall discharge the jury.
as if the hearing had been to the court alone. The court may:
(1) sentence the defendant to life imprisonment without parole; or
(2) sentence the defendant to a term of years.
The court may impose a sentence of life imprisonment without parole only if the jury has returned a special verdict form unanimously finding beyond a reasonable doubt the presence of at least one (1) alleged aggravating circumstance listed in subsection (b).
(g) If the hearing is to the court alone, except as provided by IC 35-36-9, the court shall:
(1) sentence the defendant to death; or
(2) impose a term of life imprisonment without parole;
only if it makes the findings described in subsection (l).
(h) If a court sentences a defendant to death, the court shall order
the defendant's execution to be carried out not later than one (1) year
and one (1) day after the date the defendant was convicted. The
supreme court has exclusive jurisdiction to stay the execution of a
death sentence. If the supreme court stays the execution of a death
sentence, the supreme court shall order a new date for the defendant's
(i) If a person sentenced to death by a court files a petition for postconviction relief, the court, not later than ninety (90) days after the date the petition is filed, shall set a date to hold a hearing to consider the petition. If a court does not, within the ninety (90) day period, set the date to hold the hearing to consider the petition, the court's failure to set the hearing date is not a basis for additional postconviction relief. The attorney general shall answer the petition for postconviction relief on behalf of the state. At the request of the attorney general, a prosecuting attorney shall assist the attorney general. The court shall enter written findings of fact and conclusions of law concerning the petition not later than ninety (90) days after the date the hearing concludes. However, if the court determines that the petition is without merit, the court may dismiss the petition within ninety (90) days without conducting a hearing under this subsection.
(j) A death sentence is subject to automatic review by the supreme court. The review, which shall be heard under rules adopted by the supreme court, shall be given priority over all other cases. The supreme court's review must take into consideration all claims that the:
(1) conviction or sentence was in violation of the:
(A) Constitution of the State of Indiana; or
(B) Constitution of the United States;
(2) sentencing court was without jurisdiction to impose a sentence; and
(A) exceeds the maximum sentence authorized by law; or
(B) is otherwise erroneous.
If the supreme court cannot complete its review by the date set by the sentencing court for the defendant's execution under subsection (h), the supreme court shall stay the execution of the death sentence and set a new date to carry out the defendant's execution.
(k) A person who has been sentenced to death and who has completed state postconviction review proceedings may file a written petition with the supreme court seeking to present new evidence challenging the person's guilt or the appropriateness of the death sentence if the person serves notice on the attorney general. The supreme court shall determine, with or without a hearing, whether the
person has presented previously undiscovered evidence that
undermines confidence in the conviction or the death sentence. If
necessary, the supreme court may remand the case to the trial court for
an evidentiary hearing to consider the new evidence and its effect on
the person's conviction and death sentence. The supreme court may not
make a determination in the person's favor nor make a decision to
remand the case to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing without
first providing the attorney general with an opportunity to be heard on
(l) Before a sentence may be imposed under this section, the jury, in a proceeding under subsection (e), or the court, in a proceeding under subsection (g), must find that:
(1) the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that at least one (1) of the aggravating circumstances listed in subsection (b) exists; and
(2) any mitigating circumstances that exist are outweighed by the aggravating circumstance or circumstances.