- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indiana Supreme Court turned down the request of a Gary man accused of killing seven women to look at the constitutionality of the state’s death penalty statute before he goes to trial.

The Post-Tribune (https://trib.in/2oLRQMT ) reported the court denied 46-year-old Darren Deon Vann’s request Thursday, following suit with rulings in previous challenges in other Indiana cases. Vann argued the statute possibly violates the U.S. Constitution’s 8th Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

His defense attorneys argued in their appeal request that the issue should be addressed before a trial is set because “Vann should not have to wait until the jury is unable to recommend a penalty before he may challenge a statute that he believes to be unconstitutional and deprives him of his constitutional rights.” They also argued making a pre-trial decision could save Indiana taxpayers a great sum of money.

The defense said the decision impacts not only Vann but “every other pending death penalty case in Indiana.”

Between 1977 and Nov. 7, 2016, 97 people have been sentenced to death in Indiana, and 11 people are currently on the state’s death row, according to a brief by an attorney with The Promise of Justice Initiative. Vann’s defense attorneys called on the New Orleans nonprofit to provide an opinion on the appeal.

Any further doubts can be raised in a direct appeal following Vann’s trial “so that this Court can decide it within an actual -and not hypothetical -set of facts,” the court said in its ruling. Vann’s appeal request delayed the case going to trial and any additional requests could delay it for many more months or years.

Vann has a status hearing Friday in Lake County to discuss pending matters in his case. Aside from hearings and filed documents, a gag order prohibits those involved in the case from commenting outside of court.

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Information from: Post-Tribune, https://posttrib.chicagotribune.com/

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