Double Jeopardy Means No New Charges in Homicide

By Paula Hinton
By Megan Trent

March 18, 2011 Updated Mar 18, 2011 at 7:09 PM EDT

UPDATE: FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Double jeopardy laws are preventing prosecutors from putting a man behind bars for what police have deemed a homicide.

The Fifth Amendment to the Bill of Rights gives us freedom from self-incrimination, the right to an attorney, and protects us from being tried twice for the same criminal act. It's called double jeopardy, and it is part of the Indiana Constitution as well.

In Allen County, those double jeopardy laws are influencing a case nearly 14 years old.

In 1997 Earl Dashawn Terrell was 19-years-old when 16-year-old Brandon Gaither shot him in the back. The shooting left Terrell a quadriplegic.

Gaither was charged with aggravated battery and tried as an adult. He was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Gaither was then released in 2006.

Terrel was 32-years-old when he died Wednesday from health complications related to the shooting. Terrell's family says his organs were donated to other people in need after his death.

Police ruled the death a homicide, but prosecutors can't pursue criminal charges against Gaither in the death because he was already tried once before for the same criminal act.

Pat Murphy is a Partner at Barrett & McNagny, but in 1997 worked as an Allen County Prosecutor. Murphy says, "He was sentenced appropriately and charged appropriately. I think those involved in the system did the best they could under the rules we all have. The rules are there to protect all of us. We certainly don't want to change the rules when it helps us. We want to have consistent rules and do the best we can to convict those that commit crimes, and still protect everyone's constitutional rights."


FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter)--A quadriplegic Fort Wayne man shot in 1997 died yesterday from complications involving the shooting.

Thirty two-year old Earl Terrell's death has now been ruled a homicide.

The shooting took place in the middle of Eliza Street near McCulloch Street.

A juvenile was taken into to custody at the time of the incident.

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