Murder conviction overturned over Miranda rights

By The Associated Press

SALEM — The Indiana Court of Appeals overturned the murder conviction of a man accused of setting a 2017 fire at his trailer that killed a homeless man, saying police "failed to scrupulously honor'' his right to remain silent.

A jury found Joshua Risinger, 31, guilty but mentally ill last year. The Salem man was accused of setting his trailer ablaze in March 2017 with 62-year-old Jeffery Givan inside. Risinger told police he had invited Givan to stay with him.

In January, Risinger was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Risinger appealed with several arguments, including that the trial court wrongly allowed statements he made to police where he said, "I'm done talking.''

In an opinion issued this month, the appeals court agreed. The three-judge panel said while Risinger could have been clearer in invoking his Miranda rights, the law doesn't require such a formal declaration.

His statement was “an unequivocal invocation of his right to remain silent pursuant to Miranda, and the detectives continuation of questioning thereafter was a failure to scrupulously honor that right,” according to the Dec. 9 decision.

Risinger remained in custody at Miami Correctional Facility in Bunker Hill, according to the Indiana Department of Correction. He is likely to be retried.

His attorney, Stacy Uliana, said Sunday that she was pleased with the decision.

“If an individual says he or she is done talking, the police cannot try to convince them otherwise,'' she said in an emailed statement. ”Law enforcement must respect the person's rights and stop the interview.''

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