AG Curtis Hill asks U.S. Supreme Court to ensure justice for 4-year-old girl and mother who were brutally slain
Attorney General Curtis Hill announced that he has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the death sentence of Fredrick Baer, a man convicted of brutally slashing to death a 4-year-old girl and her young mother. After being convicted of murder, attempted rape and theft, Baer was sentenced to death. His convictions and sentence were twice affirmed by the Indiana Supreme Court, and a federal district court denied Baer’s request for habeas corpus. Now, several years later, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Baer was entitled to habeas relief in the form of a new penalty phase of his trial – effectively sending the case back to Madison Circuit Court for a redo of sentencing. Attorney General Hill sought to obtain an en banc rehearing of the matter – that is, the full court’s review of the three-judge panel’s ruling – but was rebuffed by the court. Taking this case to the U.S Supreme Court, Attorney General Hill noted that no one disputes Baer’s guilt or the basic facts of his horrendous crime. The primary issue is a closing statement made by the prosecuting attorney, Attorney General Hill writes in the attached petition, that “Baer’s rough upbringing did not diminish the enormity of his crime: the brutal murder of a young mother and her four-year-old daughter. The prosecutor made the point by informing the jury of his own tough childhood and observing that, although his mother was a prostitute who succumbed to a drug overdose, he still became a county prosecutor.” The petition adds, “The Seventh Circuit seized on this remark and granted Baer habeas relief, concluding that Baer received constitutionally inadequate assistance . . . because his counsel did not allege prosecutorial misconduct or challenge certain jury instructions.” In the attached petition, Attorney General Hill asks the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether the Seventh Circuit violated the deferential review requirements of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act by disregarding the reasoned decision of the Indiana Supreme Court.
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