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IN- Charges against Patterson have been dismissed

5-5-2009 Indiana:

The case against Robert "Bobby" Patterson of Bloomfield was dismissed Tuesday after both the defense and the prosecution had filed motions in Greene Superior Court requesting the case be dropped.

Patterson was charged in late March with failure to register as a sex or violent offender, a class D felony.The 62-year-old Patterson is considered a violent offender because of his conviction on Nov. 12, 1981, of the murder of 15-year-old Kathy Sanford in Bloomfield in late January, 1980. At the age of 35, Patterson was sentenced to 40 years in prison. With "good time" credit, he completed his sentence and was released from prison in 2002.

Patterson current offense was charged under the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registration Act.

When this registration law was enacted, it only applied to sex offenders. In 2007, the law was amended to include violent offenders -- five years after Patterson was released from prison on the murder conviction.

Both motions for dismissal were prompted by an Indiana Supreme Court decision handed down last Thursday in a similar case involving Richard Wallace, a convicted sex offender. Patterson is a convicted violent offender. Both were required to register under Indiana law.

In both cases, they were charged, convicted and had served their sentence for their crime before the requirement for them to register was enacted. In Wallace's case, it was the requirement to register as a sex offender, in Patterson's, as a violent offender.

The defense motion to dismiss pointed out, "The Indiana Constitution provides that 'no ex post facto law ... shall ever be passed.'""Ex post facto" is a Latin term for "after the fact." A general explanation of an ex post facto law is a law that is retroactive, or that changes the consequences of a crime after the crime was committed.

In the Wallace case, he had already completed a sentence for child molesting before the Act was enacted. When the decision was made last Thursday, the court said Wallace's conviction violated the state constitution's prohibition of retroactive laws.

The Indiana Supreme Court is composed of five justices -- the decision was unanimous.

The Supreme Court said in Wallace's case, the law "imposes burdens that have the effect of adding punishment beyond that which could have been imposed when his crime was committed.

Wallace's conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court.

The first motion to dismiss the Patterson case was filed Monday morning by Greene County Public Defender Alan Baughman who was appointed to represent Patterson.

The defense motion contended that the law under which Patterson has been charged, the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registration Act, subjected him to punishment which is prohibited under the Indiana Constitution.

The second motion was filed Tuesday by Greene County Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Jackson-Stone.

The state's motion requested the court dismiss the case for the reason that it cannot proceed with prosecution due to the recent Indiana Supreme Court decision in Wallace v. State.

On Tuesday morning, Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw said he had read the Wallace decision.

"We have no choice," said Holtsclaw. "The Indiana Supreme Court does have the final say on Indiana laws. Unless it's taken to the United States Supreme Court, we have to abide by the Indiana Supreme Court's decision."

After the second motion was filed, Superior Court Judge Dena Martin ordered the case be dismissed and all scheduled hearings were vacated.

The prosecutor acknowledged that public opinion may be opposed to dropping Patterson's case but due to the Supreme Court's decision,Holtsclaw said the prosecutor's office simply cannot proceed with the case.

Holtsclaw said the Supreme Court had made their position clear.

"The right thing to do is to follow the Supreme Court's decision," said Holtsclaw.

Holtsclaw said most people in Indiana's judicial arena have been waiting on this decision for quite some time.

Not only does the ruling affect the Patterson case, but it is expected to affect many other cases in the state.

"This could affect hundreds, maybe thousands, of other cases. We're trying to see how many other cases in Greene County will be affected. I've asked the Public Defender's Office to take a look at other cases," said Holtsclaw.

Since Patterson's arrest, he has been been incarcerated in the Greene County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bond.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, Patterson was still in jail and no information was available about when he might be released -- there was a hold on his release due to a probation or parole violation. ..Source.. by Anna Rochelle, Staff Writer

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