Fifteen years to
the day after Richard Pinkerton was shot to death in his Porter
home--ambushed on May 28, 2000, at his front door by an assailant believed
to be posing as a pizza deliveryman--the man later convicted of his murder
filed a petition for post-conviction relief with the original trial court,
Porter Superior Court No. 2.
50, is currently serving his sentence at the New Carlisle Correctional
Facility: 65 years for murder plus 30 years for being an habitual offender.
appealed his conviction in 2006 but raised only a single issue at the time:
that evidence recovered from beneath his ex-wife’s trailer in
Arizona--including the .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun determined to be
the murder weapon--was obtained through a warrantless search and seizure.
The Indiana Court of Appeals not quite summarily rejected Matson’s argument,
on the ground he could have had no reasonable expectation of privacy “in the
area under the trailer,” which Matson’s ex-wife gave investigators
permission to search.
Matson’s latest petition--filed on May 28, seeking the vacation of his
“conviction and/or sentence,” and written by Matson himself acting as his
own attorney--is a much more extensive piece of work, inasmuch as it finds
six different grounds for a reversal:
* That his original
trial attorney was unconstitutionally ineffective.
* That an OWI
conviction was used improperly to classify him as an habitual offender.
* The Judge Thomas
Webber erred when he imposed a sentence of 65 years, 10 years more than the
presumptive term of 55.
* That he was
denied various constitutional rights to a fair trial and due process.
* That his
appellate attorney was unconstitutionally ineffective.
* And that he was
denied the right to have his jury determine aggravating or mitigating
factors during sentencing.
Re: Trial Attorney
In fact Matson
doesn’t so much blame his trial attorney as he does the prosecution team for
creating the circumstances under which his attorney proved, in Matson’s
estimate, to be ineffective. The prosecutors did so by delaying discovery of
their witness list--consisting of 86 names--until 46 days before the trial
was set to begin, according to the petition.
“Counsel was not
able to interview or take 86 depositions and reasonably prepare a defense
with such short notice,” Matson states in his petition.
As a result, the
“overburdened” defense “failed to question or cross-examine” more than half
of the state’s witnesses who testified, a failure which Matson claims
“resulted in the introduction of irrelevant and/or inadmissible hearsay
Matson refers to
other “deficiencies” as well: his attorney’s failure to obtain expert
witness testimony on the subjects of firearms and fingerprints; and his
failure “to call any witnesses” to the stand during the defense phase of the
convicted of three felonies prior to his murder conviction: robbery,
attempted robbery, and OWI-prior. The first two were convictions for related
offenses, either one of which could have been used “alone” to make an
habitual-determination but not both together.
accordingly, was forced to use the OWI-prior conviction--adding it to the
robbery and murder convictions--to make him a three-time habitual offender,
is really only a misdemeanor offense enhanced under a progressive penalty
statute to a felony, which Webber then cited in further enhancing Matson’s
total sentence by 30 years, according to his petition.
“It is well settled
that the Indiana legislature never intended for traffic offenses to serve
for double enhancement in this fashion,” Matson states.
According to the
petition, Webber further erred when he sentenced Matson to the maximum 65
years--rather than the statutory presumptive term, 55 years--based on three
“aggravating factors”: Matson’s criminal history, his “need for correctional
rehabilitative treatment,” and Webber’s view that a reduced sentence would
depreciate the seriousness of the crime.
To which Matson
responds: Webber had already used Matson’s criminal history to label him an
habitual offender and impose a 30-year bump; Webber should have
provided--but did not--“a specific and individualized reason” why Matson
needed an extra 10 years in prison, above and beyond the presumptive term,
“for correctional rehabilitative treatment”; and a 55-year term wouldn’t
have been a reduced sentence at all but simply the presumptive one.
Matson argues that
prosecutors denied him a fair trail and due process by delaying the
discovery of the witness list, in violation of repeated orders to do so by
Webber, who scheduled his first “cut-off date for discovery” on Oct. 10,
2000. Not until March 29, 2001, however, did the state release its first
apparent that the state’s failure to comply with the court’s orders was a
blatant and deliberate attempt to prevent the defense from preparing for
trial,” Matson states.
considers his appellate attorney to have been as ineffective an advocate as
his trial attorney.
appellate attorney based the appeal on a single issue--the constitutionality
of the search and seizure in Arizona--when the attorney actually could have
argued any number of issues, or at least six, namely, those which Matson
himself raises in his petition for post-conviction relief.
Re: The Jury
forgot to include in his 25-page petition an argument in support of the
sixth issue promised at the beginning: that the jury should have been
allowed to determined any aggravating or mitigating factors during
Court No. 2
Webber has long
since retired from the bench of Porter Superior Court No. 2. Judge Bill
Alexa now presides.
Matson has never
ceased maintaining his innocence.