INDIANAPOLIS — Carl Boards II spent time in prison for shooting at Indianapolis officers back in 2006. He was sentenced to 25 years and served 15 of them.
Now, Boards is the suspect in the fatal shooting of Elwood Officer Noah Shahnavaz.
Attorneys tell FOX59 that state lawmakers are the ones who determine the sentencing range and define the elements of the criminal charges.
At the time of Boards’ 2006 case, nearly everyone convicted of violent felonies served half of their sentences – if they behaved in prison.
“If they don’t maintain good behavior, they could end up serving the entire sentence,” Novella Nedeff, Associate Clinical Professor of Law at IU’s McKinney School of Law, said.
In the 2006 case, Boards was initially charged with attempted murder, possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, three counts of resisting law enforcement, possession of a schedule I controlled substance (ecstasy) and carrying a handgun without a license.
In August 2007, a jury found Boards guilty of criminal recklessness, two counts of resisting law enforcement, possession of ecstasy, and carrying a handgun without a license.
The jury did not convict him of attempted murder. Ralph Staples, an attorney who is not connected to the 2006 case, said proving an attempted murder case beyond a reasonable doubt is a challenge.
“For example, I walk into a room full of people, I close my eyes, I’m armed with a handgun and I start shooting,” Staples explained. “Well, people may think that because I used a deadly weapon in a closed space that exhibited some intent to kill. But the law or the evidence, as heard by a jury, and the jury being instructed on the law, may think that my actions were reckless and that I engaged in reckless conduct without regard for the consequences or result of my actions. They could convict me of criminal recklessness, not attempted murder.”
He explained why the jury sometimes chooses to convict on the lesser charge.
“For example, the prosecutor may have proven 1, 2, 3, 4, but didn’t prove 5 in the lead charge,” Staples said. “1, 2, 3 and 4 may have been proven in the lesser charge therefore the jury is authorized to convict on a lesser included offense as opposed to the lead charge.”
Attorneys say no matter how heinous the allegations are, the jury, judges and lawyers are required to leave their feelings outside the courtroom.
“Jurors are instructed that sympathy, prejudice, feelings are not to factor into the decision they make when evaluating evidence,” Staples said.
When a judge decides the sentence, they must follow the rules of the legislature which is to begin at the advisory sentence.
“That sentence, that number is where a judge must start,” Staples said. “The judge will work up, based on the presence of aggravating factors, work down based on the presence of mitigating factors and arrive at what the judge believes to be an appropriate sentence.”