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'A slap in the face': Prosecutor responds to Supreme Court denial in Muncie murder case

US Supreme Court denied to hear the case on Monday
Supreme Court
Posted at 12:07 AM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 00:07:38-04

MUNCIE — The Delaware County Prospector called a killer's attempted appeals to the courts "a slap in the face" to the family of a Ball State University student he killed in 1995.

On September 25, 1994, Larry Newton shot and killed Christopher Coyle just a few blocks from his off-campus home in Muncie while he was walking home after a party, according to previous WRTV reporting.

Coyle, 19, of Pendleton, had just walked a female student back to her dorm when he was killed. He was on a presidential scholarship and studying engineering technology.

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Christopher Coyle

Less than a month later, the state charged Newton with murder and other offenses and said it intended to seek the death penalty, Delaware County Prosecutor Eric Hoffman said in a press release Tuesday. Less than a year after charges were filed, Newton plead guilty to murder and other offenses in exchange for life in prison without the possibility of parole and the state not seeking the death penalty.

Newton filed several petitions to appeal his life sentence, citing his age at the time of the arrest, starting on Feb. 2, 2016, Hoffman said. He was 54 days away from his 18th birthday when he killed Coyle.

"The Defendant’s arguments are a slap in the face to the victim and his family," Hoffman said. "We must remember that Christopher Coyle was a son, a brother, and a friend. He was a kind and caring person."

As courts continued to deny to hear his appeal, he would file the appeals with higher courts. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied to hear his appeal.

"The manner in which the Defendant selected his victim is akin to a predator hunting its prey in the wild," Hoffman said. "The Defendant is a violent and dangerous murderer and the streets of this community are much safer with him behind bars. The State agreed not execute him in exchange for a sentence of life. The Defendant must hold up his end of the bargain. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision finally closes the book on this horrendous saga."

Several other people were charged in connection with the incident, according to previous WRTV reporting.

You can read the full press release from Delaware County Prosecutor Eric Hoffman below.

On May 3, 2021, the United States Supreme Court issued an order declining to hear convicted killer Larry Newton’s appeal of the denial of his post-conviction relief petition.

On September 25, 1994, Larry Newton executed Christopher Coyle in cold blood. On October 19, 1994, the State charged the Defendant with murder and other felony offenses. On the same day, the State filed notice of its intent to seek the death penalty as punishment for the Defendant’s heinous crimes. On October 16, 1995, the Defendant entered into a Plea Agreement wherein he agreed to plead guilty to Murder and other offenses. In exchange for the State withdrawing its request to seek the death penalty, the Defendant specifically agreed to the imposition of the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. On December 29, 1995, the Court accepted the Plea Agreement and sentenced the Defendant to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In doing so, then Judge Robert Barnet Jr said:

What you did, Mr. Newton, was you coldly and deliberately executed Christopher Coyle. When I see such a total disregard for human life…it is both shocking and it is to me indicative that if placed in a situation similar to this, you would respond in a similar manner.

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This was the act of a coward. It was senseless and in a very real sense, as I pointed out, it was an execution. The tragedy is that the fact that this act is magnified by the fact that Christopher Coyle was minding his own business, he didn’t cause you any trouble. The only reason he was on the street, as his father pointed out, trying to get a friend home safely.

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You made a conscious and a deliberate choice, and you made the choice to kill Christopher Coyle. When you made that choice, Mr. Newton, it seems to me that you have forfeited your right to be a part of our society. It seems to me this is precisely the kind of case the legislature had in mind when the life without parole statue was passed. Frankly society should not have to put up with people like Mr. Newton.

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To lead a person into an alley and to put a bullet in his head and leave him there to die in the dirt takes a very different kind of person. It seems to the Court that it takes a person filled with hate, and a person who is genuinely evil, and in my judgment, Mr. Newton, beyond rehabilitation.

On February 2, 2016, the Defendant filed a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief seeking to set aside his life sentence. The State opposed his petition. On July 7, 2016, the Court held a hearing on the petition. On December 7, 2016, in a fiftyfour (54) page ruling, Delaware Circuit Court 3 Judge Linda Ralu Wolf denied the Defendant’s Petition. The Defendant appealed the Judge’s ruling. On September 6, 2017, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Wolfe’s ruling and the Defendant lost his appeal. The Defendant asked the Indiana Supreme Court to review his case. On November 21, 2017, the Indiana Supreme Court unanimously declined to hear the case. On May 3, 2018, the Defendant petitioned the United States Supreme Court to hear his case.

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear his case. Thus, the Defendant has lost his appeal and will spend the remainder of his natural life behind bars which is exactly where he belongs.

The Defendant has claimed that he should be given leniency due to his age at the time of his crime. He claims to have been a “juvenile” at the time of his offense. While he may have legally been a juvenile based on his date of birth, he deserves no leniency or mercy whatsoever. Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent. This Petitioner was not a child. He was a mere forty-seven (47) days away from his eighteenth birthday. From a very young age he demonstrated a complete and total disregard and distain for the law, for law enforcement personnel, and any type of persons in authority. He showed a shocking disregard for the rights of other people. The evidence in the record indicates that he has a depraved character. The Defendant’s coldblooded execution of Christopher was a thrill killing and he has shown no remorse whatsoever. When he told Scott Turner about how he had executed Christopher Coyle, he was smiling and grinning. Later that evening, the Defendant approached Scott Turner and asked to borrow his gun again. The Defendant said that he “wanted to do that shit again. I want to go make some money.” The next day, the Defendant showed Turner the front page newspaper article detailing the murder and when he did so laughed. After he was arrested, jailed, and awaiting trial on a capital offense, the Defendant was planning the execution of Scott Turner because he was willing to testify on behalf of the State of Indiana. At the time he was consulting with his attorneys, court appointed psychiatrists and psychologists, he was plotting the death of a witness in this case. The Petitioner is truly depraved and irredeemable.

In support of his Petition to set aside his life sentence, he cites the fact that he allegedly read Shakespeare while in prison. Quite frankly, I couldn’t care less whether he read Shakespeare or comic books while he was imprisoned for his heinous crimes. The Defendant’s arguments are a slap in the face to the victim and his family. We must remember that Christopher Coyle was a son, a brother, and a friend. He was a kind and caring person. The manner in which the Defendant selected his victim is akin to a predator hunting its prey in the wild. The Defendant is a violent and dangerous murderer and the streets of this community are much safer with him behind bars. The State agreed not execute him in exchange for a sentence of life. The Defendant must hold up his end of the bargain. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision finally closes the book on this horrendous saga.