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Joseph Corcoran can appeal death penalty

Friday, March 29, 2013 - 10:25 am

Joseph Corcoran, convicted nearly 16 years ago of killing four people and sentenced to death, will be allowed to appeal that penalty again.

An order issued Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge Jon E. DeGuilio on Corcoran's February request was granted, allowing him to petition the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals for a fourth time in his 1997 case.

Corcoran was found guilty of four counts of murder and statutory aggravating circumstance in multiple murders in the July 1997 shooting deaths of his brother Jim; his sister's fiance, Scott Turner; Timothy Bricker; and Doug Stillwell, all in a home on Bayer Avenue where Corcoran lived with his brother, sister and her fiance.

Corcoran, who was 22 at the time of the murders, was scheduled to be executed in 2005. He had waived his right to appeal in 2003 but later claimed various errors were made during the sentencing phase and that Indiana's statute for capital punishment was unconstitutional, among other things.

While his death sentence has been upheld multiple times, Wednesday's ruling stated Corcoran was granted the ability to appeal because “this is a death penalty case, and that counsels strongly in favor of affording the petitioner every chance to fully litigate his claims.”

Corcoran, according to the ruling, hopes to pursue before the 7th Circuit “that the trial court relied on non-statutory factors in a way that violated the federal constitution” and “the trial court refused to consider mitigating evidence.”