INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Supreme Court is likely to affirm Derrick Cardosi's life sentence, without the possibility of parole, for participating in a 2016 drug-related triple homicide, burglary and robbery in the Newton County town of Sumava Resorts.
At oral arguments Thursday, the five justices appeared unpersuaded by Cardosi's attorney Harry Falk's claim that text messages between Cardosi and his accomplice, Sebastian Wedding — which implicated them in the crimes — should not have been shown to the jury because Cardosi and Wedding attempted to delete them.
Justice Steven David, in particular, seemed astounded by that argument, which Deputy Attorney General Lyubov Gore confirmed to David never has been accepted by any appellate court in the country.
Likewise, Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Justice Mark Massa suggested that even if the messages were admitted in error, the error likely was harmless as there was considerable other evidence linking Cardosi and Wedding to the three stabbing deaths.
Falk, undeterred, argued that without the text messages in evidence, the jury never would have agreed to a life without parole sentence, which is equivalent to the death penalty in terms of legal procedure, including direct appeal to the Supreme Court, and the ultimate resolution.
He asked the justices to order a new sentencing hearing where Cardosi would be sent to the Department of Correction for a specific term of years, and someday have the possibility of being paroled.
Gore, meanwhile, urged the court to affirm Cardosi's life sentence without parole because he committed a heinous triple murder on unsuspecting victims — Justin Babbs, 20; Richard Thomas, 23; and Kimberly Spears, 39 — while assisting a criminal and stealing a car.
Cardosi, 26, currently is incarcerated at the Pendleton Correctional Facility. Wedding, who turns 27 Saturday and pleaded guilty to two counts of murder, is serving a 55-year sentence at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, according to DOC records.
A Supreme Court ruling is expected later this year.