Indiana Court of Appeals denies new trial for Evansville man accused of triple murder

Indiana Court of Appeals denies new trial for Evansville man accused of triple murder

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - An Evansville man convicted in a triple murder case did not have his rights violated when a Vanderburgh County judge allowed live-tweeting in the courtroom.

The Indiana Court of Appeals passed down that decision Wednesday morning.

Christopher Compton convicted in 2015 of murder, following a Franklin Street house fire that killed three.

Compton's attorneys felt the media shouldn't have been able to live-tweet from inside the trial, but the court of appeals ruled the overwhelming evidence against Compton outweighed social media in court.

During the week-long trial, the judge allowed tweeting inside the courtroom saying:

" I am going to instruct the parties to tell their witnesses to turn off their Twitter accounts until after they've testified.  But I'm going to allow those of you in the media that are here tweeting, you're going to be permitted to do that so long as it's done in a way that doesn't interfere with the proceedings."

The Indiana Court of Appeals concluded:

" The jury was sequestered during the Twitter discussion; the trial court instructed the media no to tweet in a manner that would disrupt proceedings; the trial court instructed the attorneys to notify their respective witnesses not to use Twitter until after they testified; and there is no evidence any witnesses or jurors viewed any tweets pertaining to the trial.  We conclude Compton was not deprived of due process when the media was allowed to tweet live updates of his criminal trial from the courtroom.  We further conclude the trial court did not err in admitting evidence of Compton's inculpatory statements."

Compton sentenced to 200 years in prison for setting a house fire on Franklin Street in March 2014 that resulted in the deaths of Keri Jones, her 3-year-old daughter Jazmin, and Donald Lankford.

The jury that convicted him declined to recommend a sentence of life without parole.  A jury found Christopher Compton guilty but mentally ill after three people were killed in an apartment fire in 2014.

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