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Indiana high court reinstates Gary man’s murder conviction

A wooden judge gavel and soundboard isolated on white background. (Photo by Oana Malaeru / 500px / Getty Images)

CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) — Indiana’s high court has reinstated a Gary man’s criminal convictions, months after the state appeals court overturned his convictions in a fatal shooting at a gas station.

In Tuesday’s 5-0 ruling, the Indiana Supreme Court said that notwithstanding conflicts and uncertainties that could have led jurors to harbor reasonable doubt about Marquis Young’s guilt, there’s no basis for undoing their weighing of the evidence and reasonable inference he was guilty.

Justice Christopher Goff wrote for the court that there’s nothing preventing juries from returning a guilty verdict based entirely on circumstantial evidence, of which he said the case has plenty, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

“No single ‘smoking gun’ was presented, but we cannot say that a reasonable fact-finder was unable to draw the conclusion that Young was guilty,” he wrote.

A Lake County jury convicted Young, 32, of murder and two counts of attempted murder in the May 2020 shooting that killed Dion Clayton, 27, and wounded two other men at a Gary gas station. He was sentenced last year to 115 years in prison.

In May’s 2-1 ruling, the state Court of Appeals had overturned the jurors’ verdict in a rare step that cited insufficient evidence. Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote that evidence in the case — including a cigarette butt found near the gas station with Young’s DNA on it — “comes nowhere close to proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”