Capital Punishment in Indiana a Lengthy Process

By Max Resnik
By Megan Trent

January 4, 2012 Updated Jan 5, 2012 at 8:16 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Prosecutors have not said whether they'll seek the death penalty in their case against Michael Plumadore, the man accused of murdering 9-year-old Aliahna Lemmon. However, pursuing any death penalty case is a long road.

In Indiana, 20 inmates have been executed since 1976 when Indiana's death penalty legislation was overhauled. Before 1976, 131 people were put to death. That ranks Indiana as the 14th highest state for executions out of 38 states with capital punishment.

Today, the number of people on death row stands at 14. All are men except for one - Debra Brown. Brown was convicted of killing two young girls back in 1986. She is also the longest resident of death row after being there for more than 25 years.

A Fort Wayne man, Joseph Corcoran, is also on death row. Corcoran killed his brother and three others in 1997 after reportedly hearing the group talk negatively about him.

The average inmate spends more than 14 years on death row in Indiana. That's mostly due to the lengthy appellate process. Defendants have the right to file appeals at every level of the court system - automatic appeal, state habeas corpus, federal habeas corpus, and clemency. If all appeals are denied, a date for lethal injection is scheduled.

Over the years, two innocent people have been freed and three inmates have been granted clemency.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – According to the State of Indiana, a murder can qualify for the death penalty if there are specific aggravating circumstances.

Under Indiana law, the aggravating circumstances that qualify for the death penalty include the commission of a murder of an individual who is under the age of 12, if the defendant was molesting or raping the victim and if the victim was dismembered.

Michael Plumadore, the man who told police he killed 9-year-old Aliahna Lemmon, meets two of the criteria necessary for a death penalty case.

The graphic and specific details of Aliahna’s death are detailed in the probable cause affidavit issued after Plumadore’s arrest and preliminary charge of murder.

In the probable cause, which is graphic in nature and not suitable for more sensitive readers, Plumadore says he killed Aliahna by repeatedly hitting her in the head with a brick on the porch of his mobile home Thursday, December 22. He then wrapped her body in trash bags, according to the affidavit, and carried her body inside the mobile home and placed her body in the freezer.

Then, according to the affidavit, he told police that he used a hack saw, during the night of December 22 and early morning of December 23, to cut her body into pieces. Some of her body was placed in freezer bags and taken to a nearby dumpster. Plumadore kept Aliahna’s head, hands and feet in his freezer.

While no motive has been provided, it is expected that more information will become available Friday when Plumadore is formally charged with murder in felony court.

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