The state of Indiana has won an appeals case involving Damoine Wilcoxson’s guilty verdict in the attempted murder of two police officers in Marion County.
Wilcoxson had been found guilty in Marion County of the attempted murders and of shooting into two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department district offices.
Evidence in those shootings tied Wilcoxson to the previous unsolved shooting death 82-year-old John Clements in Zionsville, and in March of this year Wilcoxson, 23, Indianapolis, was found guilty for the September 2016 murder of Clements. He presently is serving 65 years in prison for Clements’ murder, and his appeal on that conviction is separately pending before the Indiana Court of Appeals.
The appeal won by the state last week involved incidents in October of 2016, when Wilcoxson fired gunshots at two different IMPD district offices on two different occasions. At one of the locations, two IMPD officers were visible through a window doing paperwork. Multiple bullets struck the building, and one went through the window and passed within inches of one of the officers. A jury convicted Wilcoxson of criminal recklessness and two counts of attempted murder.
According to the appeals court summary:
“A jury found Damoine Wilcoxson guilty of two counts of attempted murder and one count of criminal recklessness for shooting up two police stations in Indianapolis. The trial court, however, entered only a single attempted-murder conviction, along with a criminal-recklessness conviction, finding that the two attempted-murder counts merge. The court then sentenced Wilcoxson to 37 years in prison.”
Wilcoxson appealed, arguing that the trial court should not have admitted certain evidence, and that the error required his convictions to be reversed.
The defendant’s attorney argued “that the two attempted murder charges and the jury’s guilty verdicts on those charges were based on the single shot that went through the window. . . . But Wilcoxson took fifteen other shots in addition to the one that went through the window, including two that hit the building and two that hit a dumpster and a car sitting outside the building.”
“We disagree and affirm his convictions,” the court wrote in its decision.
In fact, Wilcoxson is set for an additional sentencing as a result of the appeal findings.
According to the appeals court, the state cross-appealed, contending the trial court erred in merging the two attempted murder counts resulting in only one conviction. Wilcoxson argued that the state is not authorized to make such an appeal and that, even if it were, the merger of the two counts was proper.
“We hold that (1) the state is authorized to bring its cross-appeal and (2) the trial court erred by merging the two attempted-murder counts. We therefore remand this matter to the trial court for the entry of a conviction and sentence on the second count,” the appeals court wrote in its ruling.
“The Court of Appeals reached the only logical conclusion,” Indiana Attorney General Hill said of the ruling. “Double jeopardy protections exist to prevent accused individuals from being found guilty of multiple crimes based on the exact same facts. Such circumstances were never at issue here.”
The appeal in the Zionsville murder case has been delayed by the withdrawal of Wilcoxson’s original attorney. Deborah Smith has since been appointed as indigent appellate counsel. A date for the appeal has not been set.