Man challenges double-murder conviction

James Ross Jr.

GOSHEN — A Goshen man who received a combined 170-year sentence after he was found guilty of two murders and an attempted killing is challenging his conviction.

James Ross Jr., 29, was convicted of two counts of murder for fatally shooting two brothers, Antonio and Anthony McClain, in Elkhart in September 2016, and was sentenced to 65 years for each. He received another 40 years in prison after being convicted of a non-fatal shooting in an alley near Mary Beck Elementary School in October 2016.

Both trials were held in February 2018. His convictions stood after decisions by the Indiana Court of Appeals in late 2018 and early 2019.

Ross filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the murder case on Thursday. He made the filing in Elkhart County Circuit Court while serving his sentence in the Pendleton Correctional Facility.

He argues that the jury was not appropriately instructed on self-defense, which was the claim he made at trial, or on lesser included offenses.

He also claims that his appellate counsel was ineffective, and argues that he ended up with an unfair jury because his lawyer didn’t challenge the dismissal of certain prospective jurors in the selection process.

“The exclusion of even a sole prospective juror based on race, ethnicity or gender violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause,” he wrote. 

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