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State’s high court orders judge to rewrite Merrillville killer’s sentence

Ronnie Rice. | Archive~Sun-Times Media

Ronnie Rice. | Archive~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 15, 2013 10:20PM



The Indiana Supreme Court has sent back to Lake County a life-without-parole case so that the sentencing order can be rewritten.

The state’s highest court indicated the sentencing order for Ronnie Jamel Rice must be crafted with greater specificity and directed Judge Diane Ross Boswell to revise it so it conforms with the law.

Boswell was absent from the bench this week.

Boswell found the aggravating circumstance — that Rice intentionally killed Maxine Urbanczyk, 61, the manager of the Merrillville KFC, during a robbery in December 2007 — but added additional language in her order regarding Rice’s potential future danger to society, appellate public defender Thomas Vanes said.

Vanes argued the case before the court on Feb. 7.

Boswell has 30 days from the Feb. 12 order from the Indiana Supreme Court to revise the sentencing order.

Typically in criminal cases, the four felony division Lake Superior Court judges can take into account a wide range of factors in deciding a sentence, including the defendant’s criminal history. In death-penalty and life-without-parole sentencing cases, however, the factors a judge can consider in determining the sentence are much more limited, Vanes said.

After Boswell revises the sentencing order, the court will resume consideration of Rice’s appeal.



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