AP NEWS

Burglar loses appeal to adjust prison sentence

September 25, 2018

A man sentenced in 2013 in Allen County to 45 years in prison after rejecting a plea deal that would have capped his sentence at 30 years lost his appeal Monday.

The Indiana Court of Appeals denied a petition for post-conviction relief filed by Mark F. Johnson, 36.

He pleaded guilty to burglary causing serious bodily injury, and Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull sentenced him in April 2013 to 45 years in prison, citing earlier convictions for reckless homicide, handgun possession and drunk driving. Charges of criminal confinement armed with a deadly weapon, auto theft, resisting police and carrying a handgun without a license were dropped.

Johnson entered the plea after rejecting an offer from prosecutors in February 2013 to plead guilty to the burglary charge. His lawyer presented the deal : that would have capped is sentence at 30 years : to Johnson, but he never signed it, according to court documents.

Instead, he returned to court about a month later : the day his trial was to start : and said he didn’t want to go to trial and agreed to plead guilty. Prosecutors agreed, and Gull later sentenced him to 45 years.

“There was no agreement as to sentencing,” the appeals court wrote in its decision.

Johnson sought relief, arguing his lawyer should have tried harder to get him to accept the earlier plea deal. He also argued a local court rule prohibited the judge from accepting plea agreements on the day trials are set to start.

Appeals court judges rejected both claims, writing in an eight-page decision Johnson’s arguments were not convincing.

“Even if we accept as true Johnson’s allegation that his attorney ‘failed to advocate’ for the state’s ’30-year cap plea’ offer on the day of trial, Johnson has given us no reason to believe that the state and the trial court would have been receptive to such an argument,” the decision states.

Johnson and another person robbed a home in the 2600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue in October 2012. They broke into the home early in the morning, used a stun gun on a man and kicked him in the face, according to court documents.

Police said a family inside the home was tied up at gunpoint while Johnson and the other man made off with a car, cash and a computer.  

mleblanc@jg.net

AP RADIO
Update hourly