Cast v. State, 22A-CR-278

Citation22A-CR-278
Case DateSeptember 23, 2022
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Jay T. Cast, Appellant-Defendant,
v.

State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

No. 22A-CR-278

Court of Appeals of Indiana

September 23, 2022


Pursuant to Ind. Appellate Rule 65(D), this Memorandum Decision shall not be regarded as precedent or cited before any court except for the purpose of establishing the defense of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or the law of the case.

Appeal from the Hamilton Superior Court The Honorable Jonathan M. Brown, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 29D02-2012-F4-7802

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT

Christopher J. Evans Dollard Evans Whalin LLP Noblesville, Indiana

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE

Theodore E. Rokita Attorney General of Indiana

Steven J. Hosler Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

MEMORANDUM DECISION

Tavitas, Judge

1

Case Summary

[¶1] Jay T. Cast was convicted of causing death while operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a Level 4 felony, and causing serious bodily injury while operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a Level 5 felony, and sentenced to an aggregate term of sixteen years. Cast appeals and claims that the trial court abused its discretion in its finding of mitigating and aggravating circumstances and that the sixteen-year sentence imposed by the trial court was inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and the character of the offender. Because we conclude that both of these claims are without merit, we affirm.

Issues

I. Whether the trial court abused its discretion in its findings of aggravating and mitigating circumstances.

II. Whether Cast's sentence is inappropriate in light of the nature of Cast's offenses and his character.

Facts

[¶2] Between 11:20 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. on December 9, 2020, Cast purchased twenty-three beers at the Atlanta Pub in Arcadia, Indiana. Of these twenty-three beers, Cast drank twenty-two. Although Cast was severely intoxicated, he got into his pickup truck and drove, eventually ending up on State Road 19.

[¶3] Shortly before 6:00 p.m. that same day, Wendy Warner was driving her SUV northbound on State Road 19. Wendy's husband, Thomas, was in the front passenger seat, and their daughter, Abby, was in the back seats with Tessa

2

Hartwick, Hanna Beechler, Becca Beechler, and Gabe Roosa. As Cast drove his truck southbound on the same highway, he veered off the road onto the shoulder, overcorrected, and crossed the center line into the northbound lanes. Wendy tried to avoid Cast's vehicle, but she was unable to do so. Cast struck the passenger side of the Warners' SUV, which "literally peeled back the whole side of the car like a can opener." Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 118.

[¶4] The force of the impact pushed Thomas's seat into a fully reclined position, which pinned Tessa into her seat behind Thomas. Thomas was moaning in pain, and Tessa was initially unconscious. Wendy could not open the driver's side door, so she climbed over Thomas to exit the vehicle. When Tessa regained consciousness, she began to scream in pain and fear. The other passengers were stuck in the vehicle until first responders removed Thomas and Tessa. As Thomas was removed from the vehicle, he asked whether his daughter Abby was okay.

[¶5] Thomas was taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a shattered pelvis, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, liver damage, and internal bleeding. Thomas eventually succumbed to his injuries. Tessa was also taken to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with broken ribs, a shattered pelvis, and lacerations to her liver. Tessa survived. The remaining passengers of the Warners' vehicle suffered minor injuries.

[¶6] When police arrived at the scene of the crash to investigate, they noticed that Cast smelled of alcohol. The police also observed alcoholic beverages in Cast's

3

truck. Cast exhibited signs of intoxication, including slurred speech, bloodshot and glassy eyes, poor dexterity, and unsteady balance. A portable breath test confirmed that Cast had been drinking, and he was taken to the hospital for a consensual blood draw. Testing of Cast's blood indicated that he had an alcohol concentration equivalent ("ACE") of .306 grams of ethanol per 100 milliliters of blood. The tests also revealed the presence of THC[1] in Cast's blood.

[¶7] The State ultimately charged Cast with eleven counts: Count I, causing death when operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a Level 4 felony; Count II, causing death when operating a vehicle with an ACE of .08 or greater, a Level 4 felony; Count III, causing death when operating a vehicle with a Schedule I or II controlled substance in the blood, a Level 4 felony; Count IV, causing serious bodily injury while operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a Level 5 felony; Count V, causing serious bodily injury when operating a vehicle with an ACE of .08 or greater, a Level 5 felony; Count VI, causing serious bodily injury when operating a vehicle with a Schedule I or II controlled substance in the blood, a Level 5 felony; Count VII, operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person, a Class A misdemeanor; Count VIII, operating a vehicle with an ACE of .15 or greater, a Class A misdemeanor; Count IX, operating a vehicle with a Schedule I or II controlled substance in the blood, a Class C misdemeanor;

4

Count X, possession of cocaine, a Level 6 felony; and Count XI, possession of a controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor.

[¶8] On November 4, 2021, Cast entered into a plea agreement in which he agreed to plead guilty to Count I and Count IV. In exchange, the State agreed to dismiss the remaining counts. Sentencing was to be determined by the trial court. The trial court accepted the plea agreement on January 13, 2022, and sentenced Cast to eleven years in the Department of Correction ("DOC") for Count I and a consecutive term of five years for Count IV, with two years to be served on community corrections. The trial court also suspended Cast's driver's license for a total of thirteen years and ordered Cast to pay restitution in the amount of $182,883.68 to Wendy. Cast now appeals.

Discussion and Decision

[¶9] Cast claims that the trial court abused its discretion in its determination of aggravating and mitigating factors. He also claims that the sentence imposed by the trial court is inappropriate under Appellate Rule 7(B). We address each contention in turn.

I. Trial Court Did Not Abuse its Sentencing Discretion

[¶10] "[S]ubject to the review and revise power [under Indiana Appellate Rule 7(B)], sentencing decisions rest within the sound discretion of the trial court and are reviewed on appeal only for an abuse of discretion." Anglemyer v. State, 868 N.E.2d 482, 490 (Ind. 2007), clarified on reh'g, 875 N.E.2d 218; accord Phipps v. State, 90 N.E.3d 1190, 1197 (Ind. 2018). "An abuse [of discretion] occurs only

5

if the decision is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances before the court, or the reasonable, probable, and actual deductions to be drawn therefrom." Schuler v. State, 132 N.E.3d 903, 904 (Ind. 2019) (citing Rice v. State, 6 N.E.3d 940, 943 (Ind. 2014)).

[¶11] A trial court can abuse its sentencing discretion in a number of ways, including: (1) failing to enter a sentencing statement at all; (2) entering a sentencing statement in which the aggravating and mitigating factors are not supported by the record; (3) entering a sentencing statement that does not include reasons that are clearly supported by the record and advanced for consideration; or (4) entering a sentencing statement in which the reasons provided in the statement are improper as a matter of law. Ackerman v. State, 51 N.E.3d 171, 193 (Ind. 2016) (quoting Anglemyer, 868 N.E.2d at 490-91). Even if a trial court abuses its sentencing discretion, we will remand for resentencing only if we cannot say with confidence that the trial court would have imposed the same sentence had it properly considered reasons that enjoy support in the record. Id. at 194 (citing Anglemyer, 868 N.E.2d at 491).

A. Aggravating Factors

[¶12] Cast claims that the trial court abused its discretion by considering as an aggravating factor that "the harm, injury, loss, or damage suffered by the victim of an offense was (A) significant; and (B) greater than the elements necessary to prove the commission of the offense." Ind. Code § 35-38-1-7.1(a)(1); Tr. Vol. II p. 89. Cast argues that the only harm, injury, loss, or damage mentioned by the

6

trial court during sentencing was the loss suffered by Thomas's family, who were in the car when he was fatally injured.

[¶13] Cast notes that our Supreme Court has long held that "where '[t]here is nothing in the record to indicate that the impact on the families and victims in [a] case was different than the impact on families and victims which usually occur in such crimes,' this separate aggravator is improper." McElroy v. State, 865 N.E.2d 584, 590 (Ind. 2007) (quoting Mitchem v. State, 685 N.E.2d 671, 680 (Ind. 1997)). Our Supreme Court has also held:

We appreciate the terrible loss of a loved one. But because such impact on family members accompanies almost every murder, we believe it is encompassed within the range of impact which the presumptive[[2] sentence is designed to punish. Although the impact on others may qualify as an aggravator in certain cases, the defendant's actions must have had an impact on . . . other persons of a destructive nature that is not normally associated with the commission of the offense in question and this impact must be foreseeable to the defendant.

Smith v. State, 770 N.E.2d 818, 821-22 (Ind. 2002) (citation and internal quotations omitted).

[¶14] In the case at bar, the trial court did not simply focus on the fact that Thomas died[3] or the impact that his death had on his family. Instead, the trial court

7

noted the specific circumstances of the accident that resulted in Thomas's death and Tessa's...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT