Court of Appeals reverses man's convictions

An Elkhart man's child molesting convictions were reversed at the Indiana court of appeals.
Posted on Nov. 6, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed an Elkhart man's conviction of child molesting.

Timothy Lee Hyser, 55, was convicted of child molesting as a Class A felony and child molesting as a Class C felony. He was sentenced to a total of 30 years in prison.

The Elkhart County Prosecutor's office filed charges against Hyser in June 2012 in Elkhart's Superior Court 3.

During Hyser's trial, deputy prosecuting attorney Jennifer Martin introduced evidence that Hyser had a child perform oral sex on him on several occasions while he was baby-sitting the child. The victim gave testimony that Hyser fondled the child as well.

The prosecutor's officer told the court that after the victim tried to stop Hyser by saying he or she had told their parents about the abuse, Hyser contacted the Department of Child Services, alleging the child was being abused by the child's stepfather.

In his appeal, Hyser argued he was denied a meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense.

According to court files, Hyser's attorney said their client's position was that the case was against him based upon false accusations, which were made in retaliation after Hyser reported the victim's stepfather to authorities.

Hyser's attorney's intentions were to call four people to testify, including the victim's mother and stepfather. One of the witnesses said she saw the victim's stepfather hit the child.

Hyser's attorney was also planning on presenting evidence that the victim's stepfather is a registered sex offender.

The court did not allow one of Hyser's witnesses to testify and said another witness' testimony was irrelevant. The court did not admit the evidence presented that the victim's stepfather was a registered sex offender on the basis that it was not relevant.

The court allowed testimony from the victim's stepfather that the child had told him about the abuse earlier, and that he allowed Hyser access to the child even after the disclosure was made.

In its written opinion, published Oct. 17, the court agreed that “the exclusion of the evidence Hyser wished to present deprived him of a meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense.

“The testimony and evidence Hyser wished to elicit and present was exculpatory, unique and critical to his defense.”

In reversing Hyser's convictions, the court said the state can retry Hyser. Hyser remains detained at the Pendleton Correctional Facility.

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