Coble v. State, No. 1183S388

Docket NºNo. 1183S388
Citation476 N.E.2d 102
Case DateApril 03, 1985
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

Page 102

476 N.E.2d 102
James M. COBLE, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee.
No. 1183S388.
Supreme Court of Indiana.
April 3, 1985.

Page 104

Susan K. Carpenter, Public Defender, C.H. Gardner, Deputy Public Defender, Indianapolis, for appellant.

Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen., Theodore E. Hansen, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

PIVARNIK, Justice.

Defendant-Appellant James M. Coble was found guilty by a jury in the Tippecanoe County Superior Court of two counts of Burglary, a class C felony, and was further found to be an habitual offender. The Honorable William R. MaHanna sentenced him to a term of two (2) years on the first count of burglary and two (2) years on the second count of burglary, said terms to be served concurrently, and further enhanced that sentence by thirty (30) years upon finding him an habitual offender. Appellant now appeals this judgment and raises the following five issues:

1. error by the trial court by not declaring a mistrial when a court appointed psychiatrist referred to Defendant's habitual offender charge;

2. error by the trial court by admitting the same psychiatrist's testimony regarding Defendant's criminal history;

3. denial of effective assistance of counsel;

4. sufficiency of the evidence; and

5. imposition of a manifestly unreasonable sentence.

On January 1, 1983 Mark Grenat and Richard Gunckle were walking in downtown Lafayette, Indiana. At approximately 11:00 p.m., they heard a loud bang and noticed the glass door of O'Rear's bakery had been broken. They observed Appellant behind the counter rummaging through the cash register. Appellant came out of the bakery and headed eastward. He appeared to them to have been drinking.

At 11:26 p.m., Lafayette police officers responded to a burglar alarm at Eagle Lumber Company, only a few blocks from the bakery. They found the glass window pane of the office broken and the door ajar. When Appellant realized the police were present, he opened the door and stepped out. Again, he appeared to have been drinking, but not to the point of intoxication according to one of the officers who arrested Appellant. Nothing in the office had been disturbed, but the light over the doorway had been removed.

At trial, Appellant relied upon the defense of mental disease or defect. He presented two (2) witnesses in his defense. They basically testified Appellant had been drunk most of December, but neither witness had seen Appellant the night in question. After the State rested its rebuttal, the court presented testimony of two (2) court appointed psychiatrists. Both experts testified Appellant had been able to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct and had had the ability to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law. The jury returned a verdict of guilty to both counts of burglary and found Appellant to be an habitual offender. Accordingly, the trial court sentenced Appellant to a term of thirty-two (32) years imprisonment.

I

Appellant argues the trial court erred by allowing a court appointed psychiatrist, Dr.

Page 105

Richard Mehne, to disclose to the jury that Appellant was also being charged as an habitual offender. Although the trial court admonished the jury, Appellant claims this remedy was inadequate to cure the prejudicial impact of Dr. Mehne's statement. Appellant urges us to find that a mistrial should have been declared.

Upon cross-examination by the State, Dr. Mehne was asked what documents he was relying on in regard to Defendant's criminal history. Dr. Mehne responded as follows:

"A. Two--Mr. Coble's report, when I obtained his legal history from him, and also the documents made available by the Court. And I can define it when I find it. I think it had to do with previous legal difficulties summarized by the Court. So it was two, what he told me and then also materials from the--Court.

"Mr. Troemel: Your Honor, there's not a question on the floor at this time, I'd ask that counsel direct a question to the witness.

"The Witness: I found it.

"The Court: In the process of answering the question.

"A. It's a --- it's a document labelled information of habitual offender.

"Mr. Troemel: Objection. We approach the bench?"

Record at 316.

Defense counsel requested that the habitual offender comment be stricken from the record. The court sustained the objection and admonished the jury to disregard Dr. Mehne's statement.

The denial of a motion for a mistrial rests largely within the trial court's discretion, and the reviewing court will reverse the trial court's decision only when it is shown that the defendant was placed in a position of grave peril to which he should not have been subjected. Conley v. State, (1983) Ind., 445 N.E.2d 103, 104. Appellant did not motion for a mistrial, but claims the trial court should have declared one sua sponte. Appellant cites to Lawrence v. State, (1972) 259 Ind. 306, 286 N.E.2d 830, wherein we adopted the following language from State v. Ferrone, (1921) 96 Conn. 160, 113 A. 452:

"It cannot be believed that an accused man would ever have a fair trial, resulting in a verdict not affected by prejudice or by considerations by which the jury should not be influenced, if during that trial allegations that he has twice before been convicted of state prison crimes have been read to the jury, and evidence of his former convictions has been placed before them. It is beyond question that knowledge of such facts must necessarily prejudice the minds of his triers against the accused, and cause him more serious injury than that which he would suffer from any improper remarks of the state's attorney."

However, in Lawrence the defendant did not interpose the defense of mental disease or defect. Appellant Coble raised this defense and, as will be more thoroughly discussed in Issue II, this plea opened the door to evidence of Appellant's prior criminal conduct. Since Appellant's criminal history was properly before the jury, Appellant was not prejudiced to the same extent as he would have been had his case more closely resembled the defendant's in Lawrence. The jury was aware of Appellant's prior conviction for burglary and his being charged with theft at the age of fifteen because Dr. Mehne mentioned these crimes with regard to how he formulated his opinion that Defendant did not experience a blackout period the night in question. Since the jury was already aware of Appellant's criminal background, Dr. Mehne's mentioning of the habitual offender charge did not prejudice Appellant to the extent that a mistrial should have been declared. Appellant has failed to show the trial court erred by not deciding a mistrial was in order.

II

Appellant contends that the trial court erred by allowing Dr. Mehne to testify in a narrative fashion in response to the question of why Dr. Mehne did not believe Appellant's version that he had a blackout

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period the night in question. Dr. Mehne testified that his opinion was partly attributable to Appellant's criminal history as evidenced by documents and told to him by...

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17 practice notes
  • State v. Armstrong, No. 17614
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • April 22, 1988
    ...477 N.E.2d 353, 358 (Ind.Ct.App.1985) (psychiatrist testifying for the state), transfer denied (Ind. Nov. 19, 1985); Coble v. State, 476 N.E.2d 102, 106 (Ind.1985) (court-appointed psychiatrist; narrative testimony precluded objections and resulted in inadmissible testimony cured by instruc......
  • Hahn v. State, No. 18A02-8801-CR-26
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • February 8, 1989
    ...Ind., 486 N.E.2d497 (inference of intent to commit theft by demand for beer and a ride to another location); Coble v. State (1985) Ind., 476 N.E.2d 102 (intent to commit theft inferable rom time, manner and force of entry); Beard v. State (1983) Ind., 448 N.E.2d 1078 (entry effected by use ......
  • Mullins v. State, No. 3-185A8
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 19, 1985
    ...to show why the officers took the action they did and not for the truth of the matter asserted therein); Coble v. State (1985), Ind., 476 N.E.2d 102, 106-7 (defense counsel's failure to object to psychiatrist's testimony concerning defendant's criminal history as irrelevant failed to demons......
  • Stroud v. State, No. 02A05-9106-PC-199
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • March 5, 1992
    ...Stroud's pre-trial identification was inconsequential because identification was not an issue at trial. See Coble v. State (1985), Ind., 476 N.E.2d 102, overruled on other grounds by implication by Gilliam v. State (1987), Ind., 508 N.E.2d 1270, see Hahn v. State (1989), Ind.App., 533 N.E.2......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • State v. Armstrong, No. 17614
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • April 22, 1988
    ...477 N.E.2d 353, 358 (Ind.Ct.App.1985) (psychiatrist testifying for the state), transfer denied (Ind. Nov. 19, 1985); Coble v. State, 476 N.E.2d 102, 106 (Ind.1985) (court-appointed psychiatrist; narrative testimony precluded objections and resulted in inadmissible testimony cured by instruc......
  • Hahn v. State, No. 18A02-8801-CR-26
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • February 8, 1989
    ...Ind., 486 N.E.2d497 (inference of intent to commit theft by demand for beer and a ride to another location); Coble v. State (1985) Ind., 476 N.E.2d 102 (intent to commit theft inferable rom time, manner and force of entry); Beard v. State (1983) Ind., 448 N.E.2d 1078 (entry effected by use ......
  • Mullins v. State, No. 3-185A8
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 19, 1985
    ...to show why the officers took the action they did and not for the truth of the matter asserted therein); Coble v. State (1985), Ind., 476 N.E.2d 102, 106-7 (defense counsel's failure to object to psychiatrist's testimony concerning defendant's criminal history as irrelevant failed to demons......
  • Stroud v. State, No. 02A05-9106-PC-199
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • March 5, 1992
    ...Stroud's pre-trial identification was inconsequential because identification was not an issue at trial. See Coble v. State (1985), Ind., 476 N.E.2d 102, overruled on other grounds by implication by Gilliam v. State (1987), Ind., 508 N.E.2d 1270, see Hahn v. State (1989), Ind.App., 533 N.E.2......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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