672 N.E.2d 1344 (Ind. 1996), 71S00-9507-CR-843, Yamobi v. State
|Citation:||672 N.E.2d 1344|
|Party Name:||Prince Ro'Djrell YAMOBI a/k/a Roderick Wright Appellant-Defendant, v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.|
|Case Date:||October 29, 1996|
|Court:||Supreme Court of Indiana|
Brian J. May, South Bend, for Appellant-Defendant.
Pamela Carter, Attorney General, Lisa M. Paunicka, Deputy Attorney General, Office of Attorney General, Indianapolis, for Appellee-Plaintiff.
A jury convicted Roderick Wright of murder 1 and the trial court sentenced Wright to 60 years in prison. The State alleged that Wright fatally shot James Dillard. Wright raises three issues for review in this appeal:
I. Was Dillard's statement to a police officer identifying Wright as his assailant properly admitted under the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule, Ind. Evidence Rule 803(2)?
II. Did the trial court err when it permitted the prosecutor to demonstrate for the jury, with Wright's assistance, the confrontation between Wright and Dillard that led to the shooting?
III. Was Wright's conviction supported by sufficient evidence?
Factual & Procedural Background
The evidence at trial showed that on June 12, 1990 Roderick Wright and James Dillard drove to a house on Nash Road in South Bend for the purpose of selling cocaine to a prospective purchaser named Douglas. Wright, who had cocaine on his person at the time, was a known drug dealer. Dillard had helped locate buyers for Wright and was the driver that evening. Upon reaching what the two believed to be Douglas' house, Wright left the car, knocked on the door, and was told by an unidentified man that no one named Douglas resided there. The time was between 8:30 and 9 PM.
Wright changed his account of the events of that night several times. Except as noted, these facts are Wright's testimony. When Wright returned to the waiting vehicle, he found Dillard pointing a gun at him and demanding that Wright surrender the drugs. Wright pushed the gun away and it discharged. Dillard got out of the car and tried to chase Wright after the shooting, but fell over on his back. As Dillard lay on the ground, Wright fled the scene in Dillard's car and was apprehended a few weeks later in Omaha, Nebraska. It is undisputed that Dillard sustained a chest wound during the confrontation and died early the next morning in a South Bend hospital.
In response to a police radio dispatch, Corporal Michael J. Nemes of the St. Joseph County Police Department arrived at the scene at approximately 9:30 PM to investigate the shooting. Nemes found Dillard lying on his back, rolling on the ground, and in pain. Nemes got down on his knees and asked Dillard: "Who shot you?" Dillard, speaking quietly, replied: "Rod shot me and stole my car." Over Wright's objection, the trial court admitted Dillard's statement under the "excited utterance" exception to the hearsay rule. Because Dillard's condition did not appear to be life-threatening, police did not take a formal statement from Dillard before he died. The jury convicted Wright
of one count of murder. This appeal followed. This Court has jurisdiction under Indiana Appellate Rule 4(A)(7).
Hearsay is an out-of-court statement offered to prove the truth of its contents. Evid.R. 801(c). Hearsay is generally inadmissible unless the statement falls within one of the established hearsay exceptions. Evid.R. 802. In this case, the trial court admitted Dillard's statement to Officer Nemes--an important component of the State's case--under the exception provided by Evidence Rule 803(2) for excited utterance. Because the State...
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