Brown v. State, 480S92

Decision Date11 June 1981
Docket NumberNo. 480S92,480S92
Citation421 N.E.2d 629
PartiesDietra BROWN, Appellant (Defendant below), v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff below).
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

Harriette Bailey Conn, Public Defender, James G. Holland, Deputy Public Defender, Indianapolis, for appellant.

Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen., Jack R. O'Neill, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

HUNTER, Justice.

The defendant, Dietra Brown, was found guilty of second-degree murder, Ind.Code § 35-1-54-1 (Burns 1975), at a bench trial on May 23, 1977. She was sentenced to an indeterminate term of imprisonment of fifteen to twenty-five years. The sole issue raised in this direct appeal is whether the finding of guilty is supported by sufficient evidence.

Our disposition of this question is governed by a well-settled standard and scope of review. This Court does not reweigh the evidence or judge the credibility of witnesses and will consider only that evidence most favorable to the state and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom. When there is substantial evidence of probative value to support each element of the offense, the finding of the trier of fact will not be disturbed. Wofford v. State, (1979) Ind., 394 N.E.2d 100; Poindexter v. State, (1978) 268 Ind. 167, 374 N.E.2d 509. On review, this Court does not have to find that circumstantial evidence is adequate to overcome every reasonable hypothesis of innocence but only that an inference may reasonably be drawn therefrom which supports the finding. Hall v. State, (1980) Ind., 405 N.E.2d 530; Parks v. State, (1979) Ind., 389 N.E.2d 286.

In this light, a summary of the facts from the record shows that on the evening of November 28, 1976, Officer Thomas Bray of the Indianapolis Police Department received a call about a shot fired. He went to an apartment address with another officer and found the victim, Paul Dodson, lying against a couch in the front room with what appeared to a bullet wound in the upper right chest. Defendant was also in the room and Officer Bray noticed a gun on the end of a bar. It was later determined that the gun had two spent casings and three live rounds in it. Defendant and the victim had lived together in the apartment for approximately three weeks along with defendant's three young children.

Another officer, Detective John Hruban, arrived at the scene soon after the other police. Defendant came up to Hruban and said, "I did it. I shot him, I want to go to jail." Later that night, at police headquarters, after having been advised of her rights, defendant repeated that she had shot the victim. She said, "I shot him, I don't want to talk about it. Just put me in jail." When one of defendant's neighbors went into her bathroom the next morning she discovered two holes in her bathroom wall and a bullet in her linen closet. Both the spent bullet recovered from the linen closet and the spent bullet removed from the victim's body were fired from the gun recovered at the scene. Defendant testified that she and the victim had entertained friends on the night of the shooting from about 6:00 p. m. until 10:00 p. m. She testified that she and the victim got along fine and had no arguments on the day or evening of the shooting. At the trial, defendant neither remembered shooting the victim nor telling the police officer that she had done so.

We first note that one error which defendant raises concerning the record has been corrected. Due to an inaudible portion of the tape recording of the trial, the record did not establish a cause of death. This Court, under the authority of Ind.R.Ap.P. 7.2(C)(2), filed a petition for certiorari ordering the trial court to correct this omission. The record now shows that the pathologist testified at trial that the victim died of a gunshot wound to the chest area. The cause of death is thus clearly established.

Defendant next contends that there is insufficient evidence to establish the fact that the killing was purposeful and malicious as required by our statute. Ind.Code § 35-1-54-1 (Burns 1975). Defendant admits that purpose and malice may properly be inferred from the deliberate use of a deadly weapon in a manner likely to cause death. Raspberry v. State, (1981) Ind., 417 N.E.2d 913; Faust v. State, (1977) 266 Ind. 640, 366 N.E.2d 175; Brown v. State, (1975) 264 Ind. 40, 338 N.E.2d 498. However, defendant argues, in this case there is no evidence to show that she used the weapon in a deliberate manner and in such a way as would likely cause death.

She further contends that the elements of purpose and malice are not supported by the evidence, since there were no facts to indicate any prior threats, violence, or arguments between herself and the victim. She points out that there is evidence that a second shot was fired from the weapon at approximately the time the victim was shot. However, there is no evidence concerning who fired the shot or even whether it was fired before or after the shot that struck the victim.

We find that defendant is essentially asking us to reweigh the evidence which we cannot do. We have held that when there is substantial evidence in the record from which the trier of fact could find that the mortal wound was inflicted upon the victim by a deadly weapon in the hands of the defendant, malice and intent can be inferred. Blackburn v....

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7 cases
  • Cox v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • May 19, 1986
    ...the witnesses. When there is substantial evidence of probative value to support the conviction, it will not be reversed. Brown v. State (1981), Ind., 421 N.E.2d 629. The evidence presented above does more than create a mere suspicion of appellant's guilt. Appellant's own statements indicate......
  • Jones v. State, 49S00-8611-CR-958
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • June 1, 1988
    ...supported the trial court's finding Jones guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Redd v. State (1984), Ind., 461 N.E.2d 1124; Brown v. State (1981), Ind., 421 N.E.2d 629; Gilmore v. State (1981), 275 Ind. 134, 415 N.E.2d Jones next argues the trial court erred in excluding the investigating offi......
  • McCann v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • July 24, 1984
    ...that an inference may reasonably be drawn therefrom which supports the verdict. Thompson v. State, 441 N.E.2d at 193; Brown v. State, (1981) Ind., 421 N.E.2d 629, 630. A reasonable inference to be drawn from the evidence presented at trial is that Defendant killed decedent in order to obtai......
  • Landress v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • October 15, 1992
    ...mortal wound was inflicted upon the victim by a deadly weapon in the hands of the defendant, intent can be inferred." Brown v. State (1981), Ind., 421 N.E.2d 629, 633. Here, however, there is no direct evidence that Landress either inflicted a mortal wound or even used the knife in a manner......
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