A U.S. District Court judge wont grant convicted murderer Joseph Corcorans request for relief in his 1999 death sentence.
In the 32-page order, handed down last week, U.S. District Judge Jon DeGuilio found that Corcoran failed to show that Indianas decisions to uphold the death penalty in his case were contrary to decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Corcorans attorneys have said they planned to review the ruling but are already planning to appeal. The case has been pending in federal court since 2005.
We think there are some issues still pending, said Alan Freedman with the Midwest Center for Justice in Evanston, Ill. Well see where were going to go from there.
If they do so, it would mark Corcorans fourth time before the judges of the 7th Circuit of Appeals.
Corcorans case has been reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court twice, the U.S. District Court twice and before the Indiana Supreme Court five times.
DeGuilios ruling came more than seven months after a hearing on the remaining claims in Corcorans case – that there were errors in how Allen Superior Judge Fran Gull sentenced Corcoran and that Indianas death penalty statute is unconstitutional, according to court documents.
Corcoran shot and killed his brother, James Corcoran, 30; his sisters fiancé, Robert Scott Turner, 32; and two of his brothers friends, Timothy G. Bricker, 30, and Douglas A. Stillwell, 30, at a Bayer Avenue home in July 1997.
Since his incarceration, Corcoran has bragged about fatally shooting his parents with a shotgun in Steuben County in 1992, a crime for which he was charged and acquitted.
The state of Indiana can request the death penalty if a defendant is found to have committed murder with at least one aggravating circumstance, such as the age of the victim, multiple victims, while committing another crime or killing a law enforcement officer.
In Corcorans case, Gull found that one of the aggravating circumstances existed, specifically the multiple victims.
But when she sentenced Corcoran to death, she noted a number of factors against him – the innocence of the victims, the heinousness of the crime and the likelihood Corcoran would kill again. She also noted some factors to be considered in his favor, but gave them less weight than what she considered against him.
In 2000, Gull rewrote her sentencing order, carefully explaining what she considered and what she did not. The order reaffirmed the death penalty, and it has been held up by the Indiana Supreme Court.
DeGuilio ruled the Indiana Supreme Courts decision to uphold Gulls order was not unreasonable, nor did Corcoran show the trial court violated his federally secured rights, according to court documents.
The back-and-forth nature of the case has continued since Corcoran was convicted and sentenced in 1999.
If Corcoran appeals the latest ruling to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Indiana Attorney Generals Office, which represents the state on appeals, will file a response at the appropriate time, officials said.