Beland v. State, 1283S450

Decision Date25 April 1985
Docket NumberNo. 1283S450,1283S450
Citation476 N.E.2d 843
PartiesJames BELAND, Appellant, v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee.
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

Joanne Tapocsi, Deputy Public Defender, Valparaiso, for appellant.

Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen., Lisa M. Paunicka, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

GIVAN, Chief Justice.

A trial by jury resulted in a conviction of Burglary, a Class B felony. The trial court sentenced appellant to fourteen (14) years of imprisonment.

The facts are: Appellant spent the evening of January 29th drinking with a group of friends. At about 11:00 P.M., appellant went to visit Jill McCoole, the daughter of appellant's next door neighbor. Appellant and McCoole talked for a period of time; however, he left by midnight. Mrs. McCoole and her daughter then retired for the night after securing the doors. When they awoke in the morning, they discovered the home had been burglarized. Some cash, two components of a stereo system and several stereo tapes had been removed from the home.

The trim around a door and a window had been removed. The front door, which had been forcibly opened, had a muddy footprint near the door handle. The police also discovered a set of footprints in the mud around the house. The footprints revealed someone had stopped in front of each bedroom window. The path of the footprints led back to the front door.

The police received a telephone call on the 30th of January from appellant. He indicated he wished to discuss the incident with the police. After providing the proper warnings, the police took a statement in which appellant stated he went to the home about 3:00 A.M. He kicked in the front door and entered the home. Once inside he removed money from a purse and the stereo equipment from a spare bedroom. Appellant stated he took these items to his home where he hid them. The police recovered the items in appellant's home.

Appellant entered a preliminary plea of not guilty. Later he changed his mind and attempted to accept a plea bargain agreement. On April 28 the trial court refused to accept the agreement. On April 30 a local newspaper reported that appellant had pled guilty and admitted stealing the money and the stereo equipment.

On May 8 appellant filed a verified Motion for Change of Judge. He alleged bias and prejudice on the part of the judge which flowed from the plea agreement hearing. On May 11 appellant filed a verified Motion for a Change of Venue From the County. Attached to the motion was a copy of the newspaper article. The motion alleged public hostility, prejudicial reporting and the disclosure of inadmissible evidence. The court failed to rule on either the May 8 or May 11 motions.

On the day trial commenced, appellant renewed each motion and each was summarily denied. The record reveals no objection by appellant to the failure to conduct a hearing on either motion. The record only demonstrates the court denied the motions and trial commenced.

Appellant contends the trial court erred when it denied the motions without the benefit of a hearing. Appellant's Motion to Correct Error attacks the denial of the motions on the merits and does not address the issue of the failure to conduct a hearing. A party may not raise an issue on appeal predicated on grounds not raised at trial. Tabor v. State (1984), Ind., 461 N.E.2d 118. There is a substantial difference between alleging error on the basis of the failure to conduct a hearing and alleging error based on the decision of the court.

Additionally, we note appellant failed to object at trial to the actions of the trial court. Failure to object at trial results in the waiver of the issue. It may not be raised for the first time on appeal. Woods v. Brown County Plan Commission (1983), Ind.App., 446 N.E.2d 973. We hold appellant has waived any allegation of error in the denial by the trial court of both the motion for a change of judge and the motion for a change of venue.

We note that appellant would not have prevailed in a hearing on either motion. The act of rejecting a plea bargain is not sufficient to establish bias and prejudice of the trial court. Clemons v. State (1981), Ind., 424 N.E.2d 113. Additionally, the short, factually-based newspaper article does not exhibit the level of bias and prejudice sufficient to convince a trial court that appellant could not obtain a fair trial in that county as required by Ind.Code Sec. 35-36-6-1. See Daniels v. State (1983), Ind., 453 N.E.2d 160.

Appellant contends the trial court erred when it permitted the prosecutor to ask leading questions over appellant's objections during direct examination of the State's witnesses. He argues the form of questioning permitted the State to control the testimony of the witnesses. Appellant maintains the questioning was suggestive of the answers sought and that the questions asserted facts. Appellate courts have recognized certain circumstances which permit the use of leading questions. Appellant asserts the State has failed to establish that any of those circumstances were present in the case at bar.

The trial court is given wide discretion in allowing leading questions to be asked. Hedges v. State (1982), Ind., 443 N.E.2d 62. Reversible error will be found only upon a showing of an abuse of that discretion. King v. State (1984), Ind., 460 N.E.2d 947. To constitute reversible error the appellant must also show a substantial injury by the answer to the question. Hedges, supra.

A review of the testimony in question reveals no reversible error. The questioning was in part suggestive of the answer sought and did constitute the use of leading questions in an inappropriate situation. However, we do not believe appellant has shown a substantial injury by the admission of the testimony to which he objected. The improper questioning elicited answers which were cumulative of other testimony, including appellant's own confession. Thus the error was harmless. Bassemier v. Sartore (1964), 137 Ind.App. 139, 201 N.E.2d 285 (transfer denied).

Appellant argues the court abused its discretion when it overruled his objection to certain comments made by the prosecutor during closing argument. The prosecutor referred to the fact that the appellant had injected the defense of being too drunk to form the necessary intent to perform the burglary. The prosecutor merely commented that although appellant might have been intoxicated he still committed a burglary. The prosecutor was merely commenting on evidence which had been presented to the jury.

In Brady v. State (1984), Ind., 463 N.E.2d 471, this Court stated the standards for the appellate review of comments of counsel before the jury.

"It is well settled that the conduct of final argument as well as the course of the trial is within the sound discretion of the trial court. (Cites omitted.) Our standard for determining the significance of prosecutorial misconduct was thoroughly discussed in Murray v. State, (1982) Ind., 442 N.E.2d 1012. We found that the court must determine if, when viewed from the totality of the circumstances of the case, any misconduct placed the defendant in a position of grave peril to which he should not have been subjected. White v. State, (1971) 257 Ind. 64, 272 N.E.2d 312." Id. at 475.

We find no reversible error in the comments of the prosecutor. The reiteration of the facts already before the jury does not place a defendant in grave peril. A...

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  • Woods v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • November 28, 1989
    ...The State is correct that the error claimed in this argument on appeal was not preserved by a timely and proper objection. Beland v. State (1985), Ind., 476 N.E.2d 843; Thomas v. State (1976), 264 Ind. 581, 348 N.E.2d In light of the fact that this is a capital case, the death sentence stat......
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    ...the substance of the witnesses' testimony. The trial court is afforded broad discretion to allow leading questions. Beland v. State (1985), Ind., 476 N.E.2d 843, 845. Reversible error will be found only upon a showing of abuse of discretion by the trial court. King v. State (1984), Ind., 46......
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