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Death penalty still option in slayings

Matthew LeBlancMay 18, 2019

The Indiana Supreme Court won’t weigh in on whether an Allen County judge erred when she denied a request from lawyers for a man facing the death penalty to exclude execution as punishment for the killings of four people.

Defense attorneys Michelle Kraus and Robert Gevers asked Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull to approve a petition to ask the high court to consider the question after she denied motions to declare the state’s capital punishment law unconstitutional and throw out the death penalty because of his age : 20 : at the time of the slayings.

Approval would have postponed Dansby’s trial until justices decided, but Gull issued a two-sentence order Tuesday denying the request.

Dansby is charged with four counts of murder in the Sept. 11, 2016, killings of Traeven Harris, 18, Consuela Arrington, 37, Dajahiona Arrington, 18, and the near-term fetus she was carrying. The unborn child was later determined to be Dansby’s.

Trinity Hairston was shot and stabbed but survived, and Dansby is charged with attempted murder in that attack.

Prosecutors filed paperwork to seek the death penalty in 2017.

A monthlong trial is scheduled Oct. 1.

A nearly 100-page document filed by Kraus and Gevers last year argues Indiana’s death penalty statute violates several portions of the U.S. and state constitutions and should be thrown out. A separate motion argued executing someone who was under 21 when crimes were committed violates constitutional prohibitions on cruel and unusual punishment.

The argument is based on a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found it is unconstitutional to execute defendants who were younger than 18 at the time their crimes were committed.

Dansby’s lawyers say the age should be raised to 21.

Neither Kraus nor Gevers returned messages Friday from The Journal Gazette.

mleblanc@jg.net

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