The Indiana Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld the convictions of a Fort Wayne man found guilty last year of trying to kill his best friend.
Cody A. Stinson, 23, was sentenced in November to 66 years in prison for the attempted murder of Mark McVay. McVay was stabbed several times by Stinson after they and two other people were asked to leave a bar on New Year's Eve 2017.
Stinson appealed, arguing the trial court should not have allowed some statements from witnesses at trial. He also argued prosecutors shouldn't have been permitted to ask leading questions of McVay – who, because of his injuries, could only answer yes or no questions.
The appellate court disagreed and in a 15-page ruling upheld convictions of attempted murder, aggravated battery and battery with a deadly weapon.
Stinson, his half-brother Shane Hobbs, McVay and Spring Applegate were driving away from the bar when Hobbs, who was driving, heard “a smacking or tapping sound,” according to court documents. Stinson, who was in the back seat, had stabbed McVay, who “slumped over and fell unconscious,” investigators said.
McVay's carotid artery was cut in half, and he suffered “one or more strokes,” which left him without the use of his left hand and a limited ability to speak, doctors said.
Stinson challenged the testimony, but Appeals Court Judge Kirsch wrote the statement falls within an “excited utterance exception” to a rule barring hearsay. “There is little doubt that these four friends, who were celebrating New Year's Eve together, did not expect that, at the end of the evening, Stinson would have stabbed his best friend,” the ruling states. “It was clearly a startling event for Hobbs to see Stinson, his half-brother, reach over the seat, apparently to hit McVay, and later discover that Stinson had stabbed McVay. This statement was made while Hobbs was under the stress or excitement caused by McVay being stabbed.”
Judges Robert Altice Jr., Nancy Vaidik and Kirsch also noted no one objected to questions from prosecutors at trial.
Stinson is being held at the Pendleton Correctional Facility. His earliest release date is January 2068, according to the Indiana Department of Correction.