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Indiana Supreme Court rules Tyrus Coleman's sentence for shooting OK

Tyrus Coleman won't get out of prison for shooting Anthony Dye. At least, he won't get out for a few more decades. The Indiana Supreme Court overruled an appeals court ruling Thursday, saying that Coleman's second trial on the attempted-murder charge was proper.

Posted on May 19, 2011 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on May 19, 2011 at 3:36 p.m.

GOSHEN -- Tyrus Coleman won't get out of prison for shooting Anthony Dye. At least, he won't get out for a few more decades.

The Indiana Supreme Court overruled an appeals court ruling Thursday, saying that Coleman's second trial on the attempted-murder charge was proper.

Last year the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned Coleman's conviction, saying it violated prohibitions against double jeopardy. Coleman was tried for shooting Dye and then getting into a shoot-out with Dye's son, Jermaine Jackson. Jackson was killed, but in the first trial jurors acquitted Coleman of murder in Jackson's shooting.

The jury couldn't agree whether shooting Dye amounted to self-defense, as Coleman argued. Elkhart Circuit Judge Terry Shewmaker declared a mistrial on that charge and scheduled Coleman for a second trial.

The second time around Coleman was convicted of attempted murder, and Shewmaker sentenced him to 45 years for twice shooting Dye on March 18, 2007, in Elkhart.

Coleman appealed, arguing the first jury must've found he acted in self-defense to acquit him of murder, and the appeals court overturned the case last year.

However, the Supreme Court viewed it differently. "For the sake of argument we accept as true that the jury's acquittal of Coleman on the murder charge in the first trial was based on its belief that Coleman acted in self-defense," Justice Robert Rucker wrote in the unanimous opinion, issued Wednesday. "But, the jury could have rationally concluded that the act of self-defense was in response to the conduct of Jermaine only," Rucker wrote.

He continued, "In essence the acquittal relating to the murder of Jermaine ... did not amount to the jury determining that Coleman acted in self-defense with respect to the attempted murder of Dye."

The Supreme Court denied Coleman's claims of improper evidence and improper statements by a prosecutor.

They also disagreed with his argument that the 45-year sentence, only five years shy of the maximum, was too much.

"Coleman fired at Dye twice at close range with a .45 caliber handgun. The first shot struck Dye in the head. After Dye was immobilized and fell to the ground, Coleman fired again striking Dye in the chest," Rucker wrote. He noted that Coleman never called police to report two armed men on his property, and said he put the safety of other adults and children -- including Coleman's son -- in danger by firing.

Coleman had a criminal record and was on probation at the time, so, Rucker wrote, "We have not been persuaded that Coleman's character or the nature of his offense requires a revision of Coleman's sentence."




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