Indiana Death Row

(a.k.a. Obadayah Ben-Yisrayl)


DOB: 01-20-1969 DOC#: 922005 Black Male

Porter County Superior Court

Judge Thomas W. Webber

Prosecutor: James H. Douglas, Gwen R. Rinkenberger

Defense: Jerry T. Jarrett, Alex Woloshansky

Date of Murder: December 13 & 15, 1990

Victim(s): Marie Meitzler W/F/48; Harchand Dhaliwal I/M/54 (No relationship to Peterson)

Method of Murder: shooting with sawed-off shotgun

Summary: Harchand Dhaliwal was working alone in the evening as an attendant at a Hudson Oil station in Portage. He was robbed and shot in the head at close range with a .12 gauge shotgun. Two days later, Marie Meitzler was working alone in the evening as the desk clerk in a Howard Johnson motel. She was robbed and shot in the neck at close range with a .12 gauge shotgun. Three days later, George and Eli Balovsky were found dead following a robbery in their tailor shop in Gary (Lake County). Both were shot in the head at close range by a .12 gauge shotgun. A sawed-off shotgun, identified as the murder weapon in all four murders, was later recovered from Peterson's home after his mother consented to the search. Peterson made incriminating statements to an acquaintance, and gave a complete confession to police. Evidence of the Lake County murders of the Balovsky brothers was admitted into evidence at the Porter County trial.

Peterson was also convicted of the 1991 Attempted Murder/Armed Robbery of Ronald Nitsch in Lake County, and was sentenced to 50 years and 20 years imprisonment on 11-16-93. (See Peterson v. State, 653 N.E.2d 1022 (Ind.App. 1995).

Inmate Website:

Trial: Information/PC for Murder filed (02-14-91); Amended Information for DP filed (03-01-91); Voir Dire (02-18-92, 02-19-92, 02-20-92, 02-21-92, 02-22-92, 02-24-92, 02-25-92, 02-26-92, 02-27-92); Jury Trial (02-27-92, 02-28-92, 02-29-92, 03-03-92, 03-04-92, 03-05-92, 03-06-92, 03-07-92, 03-09-92, 03-10-92, 03-11-92, 03-12-92, 03-13-92, 03-14-92, 03-16-92); Verdict (03-16-92); DP Trial (03-17-92); Verdict (03-17-92); Court Sentencing (05-15-92).

Conviction: Murder, Felony-Murder, Murder, Felony-Murder

Sentencing: May 15, 1992 (Death Sentence)

Aggravating Circumstances: b (1) Robbery, 2 murders

Mitigating Circumstances: None

Direct Appeal:
Ben-Yisrayl v. State, 690 N.E.2d 1141 (Ind. December 31, 1997)
Conviction Affirmed 5-0 DP Affirmed 5-0
Dickson Opinion; Shepard, Sullivan, Selby, Boehm concur.
Ben-Yisrayl v. Indiana, 119 S.Ct. 877 (1999) (Cert. denied).

PCR Petition filed 01-04-99. PCR denied 02-10-00 by Porter County Superior Court Judge Thomas W. Webber.
Ben-Yisrayl v. State, 753 N.E.2d 649 (Ind. August 28, 2001)
(Appeal of PCR denial by Porter County Superior Court Judge Thomas W. Webber)
Affirmed 5-0; Opinion by Chief Justice Shepard; Justices Disckson, Sullivan, Boehm, and Rucker concur.
Ben-Yisrayl v. Indiana, 122 S.Ct. 2382 (2002) (Cert. denied).

11-05-02 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana.
07-23-03 Writ of Habeas Corpus granted by Judge Allen Sharp. Ben-Yisrayl v. Davis, 277 F.Supp.2d 898 (N. D. Ind. July 23, 2003).
(Writ of Habeas Corpus granted by Judge Allen Sharp, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana; Prosecutorís argument was comment on Defendantís failure to testify, and the error was not harmless; Inadequate state trial court record amounted to due process violation. State is to release or retry Petitioner within 120 days.)

Ben-Yisrayl v. Davis, 431 F.3d 1043 (7th Cir. December 13, 2005) (03-3169)
Stateís appeal of granting of habeas relief. Affirmed 3-0.
Circuit Judge Anne Claire Williams Opinion; Joel M. Flaum, Daniel A. Manion concur.
For Defendant: John H. Gallo, Kelly Huggins, Chicago, IL
For State: Andrew K. Kobe, Deputy Attorney General (S. Carter)


As of July 1, 2006

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