Gaddis v. State, 1267

Citation19 Ind.Dec. 74, 253 Ind. 73, 251 N.E.2d 658
Case DateOctober 29, 1969
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

William C. Erbecker, Indianapolis, for appellant.

John J. Dillon, Atty. Gen., Rex P. Killian, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

HUNTER, Judge.

Appellant was charged with the crime of robbery to which he pled not guilty. Trial by the court resulted in a verdict of guilty and this appeal followed.

A brief recital of the evidence most favorable to the state follows: Eddie Lee Stacey was the station attendant on duty at a Texaco Service Station located at 4555 North Keystone Avenue, Indianapolis, Indiana in the early morning hours of January 3, 1966. Business being slack, Stacey was sitting in his automobile which was parked in the bay area of the station when he observed a man entering the service station office. Stacey proceeded to the office to see if he could be of assistance. As he entered the office, the man, later identified by Stacey as appellant, pulled a gun and told Stacey to get the key to the restroom. According to Stacey's testimony, appellant then ordered him into the restroom and tied him up with a nylon stocking. Appellant then asked Stacey where the money was and appellant threatened to kill Stacey if he later identified appellant.

Shortly thereafter, Stacey broke loose and upon hearing scuffling inside the station ran across the street to an old folks home to call the police. Before entering the home he saw what he described as a 1960 Ford utility truck sitting in back. At the same time he saw someone drive off with his own car. The evidence indicates that someone else drove off in the truck at about the time Stacey emerged from the home, Stacey having completed his call to the police.

Appellant was stopped by police approximately one half four after they received the report, some four to five miles from the scene of the crime in a 1962 red Dodge pickup truck. He was taken directly to the service station and identified by Stacey as being the person who had previously tied him up and asked where the money was.

Appellant's sole assignment of error in this appeal is that the trial court erred in overruling his motion for new trial. In such motion for new trial appellant contends that the trial court's finding is contrary to law and not sustained by sufficient evidence. In an amended motion for new trial, filed with the permission of the trial court, appellant also contends that there is newly discovered evidence which could not have been presented at trial despite reasonable diligence. Attached thereto are two supporting affidavits.

The thrust of appellant's argument, as it relates to the sufficiency of the evidence question, is that the evidence obtained from the state's witness for identification purposes failed to meet that quantum of proof necessary in a criminal case and was the product of sustained pressure and coercion on the part of law enforcement officials who went out of their way to convict appellant.

When the sufficiency of the evidence is challenged on a criminal conviction, it is well settled that only that evidence most favorable to the state and all logical and reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom will be considered on appeal. Carter v. State (1968), Ind., 234 N.E.2d 850. Capps v. State (1967), 248 Ind. 472, 229 N.E.2d 794. Beatty v. State (1963), 244 Ind. 598, 194 N.E.2d 727. Moreover, this court will not weigh the evidence or determine the credibility of the witnesses. Stock v. State (1966), 247 Ind. 532, 219 N.E.2d 809.

The above statements of law serve to establish the ground rules upon which this court may review a criminal conviction. However, within this judicial framework is left an area of responsibility from which this court cannot conscientiously close its eyes. Although this court must be careful not to confuse its function and purpose with that of the trial court, we nevertheless should be equally as careful not to be found in derogation of our duties as an appellate tribunal, monitoring with a watchful eye the administration of justice on the trial court level.

Judge Emmert very ably defined the tests to be used when determining the sufficiency of the evidence question in Baker v. State (1956), 236 Ind. 55, 138 N.E.2d 641 where he carefully documents each proposition of law with numerous citations to previously decided Indiana cases. We shall not attempt to duplicate that effort in this opinion. In re-affirming the tenor of that opinion however, we would again note the basic premise from which this court begins its inquiry, namely that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. From that point on, in determining whether each material allegation of the offense is supported by substantial evidence of probative value we are guided by the following caveats:

(1) To prove an essential allegation beyond a reasonable doubt requires more evidence than to prove an allegation by a preponderance of the evidence.

(2) When there is a reasonable doubt whether defendant's guilt is satisfactorily shown, he must be acquitted.

(3) Substantial evidence means more than seeming or imaginary.

(4) The scintilla of evidence rule does not obtain in this jurisdiction.

(5) Mere suspicion of guilt or opportunity to commit the crime are insufficient to support a conviction.

Baker v. State, supra, and cases there cited.

The essence of the above as it relates to the quantum of proof required to convict a person of a criminal offense is very aptly summed up as follows:

'The rule of law defining proof beyond a reasonable doubt has been well settled for many years and requires each juror to be so convinced by the evidence that as a prudent man he would feel safe to act upon such conviction in matters of the highest concern and importance to his own dearest and most important interests, under circumstances where there was no compulsion or coercion upon him to act at all. Chambers v. State (1953), 232 Ind. 349, 356, 111 N.E.2d 816; Morgan v. State (1921), 190 Ind. 411, 130 N.E. 528; Bradley v. State (1870), 31 Ind. 492.' Baker v. State, supra, pp. 644, 645.

Mindful of the above, this court must make its determination on the record of the evidence submitted in each particular case. As we said most recently in Liston v. State (1969), Ind., 250 N.E.2d 739, a recognition of our appellate responsibilities in this regard may require a probing and sifting of the evidence to determine whether the residue of facts warrants a conviction; where such residue fails to meet the requirement that each material allegation be supported by substantial evidence of probative value, we should so declare.

Turning to the facts in this case we note that Stacey, the chief prosecuting witness, identified appellant in the presence of policemen at the scene of the crime approximately one hour after the alleged crime had occurred. We look with some skepticism however, at the testimony illicited from this witness at trial:

'Q. Any they brought back a man did they?

A. Yes, sir, they did.

Q. And was he the man that you had seen that had held you up?

A. He looked like the man, sir.

Q. Would you say that he was the man?

A. Well, I was too shook up and rattled that night, I couldn't tell you for sure if it was or not. At the time I identified the man, yes.'

And * * *

'Q. Weren't you also threatened with prison if you didn't testify against Gaddis?

A. Yes, I was.

Q. And they told you would go to the penitentiary if you didn't testify against Gaddis, didn't they?

A. Right.'

And * * *

'Q. Now, then were you absolutely sure in your identification when you first saw Gaddis in the custody of the police? Were you sure of it then?

A. I was positive and I'm positive today.

Q. You're positive today. You are more positive than you were this morning, is that right?

A. I'm just as positive as I was this morning.

Q. You got more assurances since this morning, haven't you?

A. Yes, I have.

Q. And the reason you are so positive now is you're got assurances that you won't go to prison, yourself, is that right?

A. Right.

Q. Did, were you told that the authorities would see that there would be such a high bail put on Gaddis, if he was convicted, that he couldn't get out?

A. Yes, I was.'

Finally * * *

'Q. Now, weren't you strongly advised after your testimony this morning that you would better be more positive of your identification? Weren't you told that?

A. Not that I can remember, no, sir.

Q. You say no. Now, when the, you testified this morning that you told police that Gaddis looked like the man that robbed you. You testified to that didn't you?

A. Yes, sir, I did.

Q. So you weren't sure then, were you?

A. No, sir.

Q. I see. Well you just got through saying you were positive then, didn't you?

A. Yes, sir, I did.

Q. Well, which is it then, which is right, he looked like the man or you were positive? Which is which?

A. I'm positive.

Q. But you weren't at the time the police brought him up, were you?

A. No, sir, I was scared.'

Coupled with the above testimony is other evidence that the prosecuting witness was subjected to pressures and threats of prison if he didn't testify against appellant. On the other hand there was evidence that appellant made threats against the prosecuting witness if he did testify. Whether these facts affected his testimony is not for us to decide. What is apparent however, is that his testimony is vacillating, contradictory and uncertain.

In addition we note a complete lack of circumstantial evidence by which appellant could be connected with the crime. For example there is no evidence that any of the money was recovered on appellant or in his truck, yet he was apprehended approximately one-half hour after the robbery. The description given by the prosecuting witness of the truck he saw outside the service station was that of a utility truck. Appellant was apprehended while driving a pick-up truck. Also there was...

To continue reading

Request your trial
125 cases
  • Robinson v. State, 2-1072A80
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 15 Abril 1974
    ...determine whether circumstantial evidence is sufficient to exclude every reasonable hypothesis of innocence and from Gaddis v. State (1969), 253 Ind. 73, 251 N.E.2d 658, and Baker v. State (1956), 236 Ind. 55, 138 N.E.2d 641 (two sight identification cases) concerning the dangers of testimo......
  • Fox v. State, 2-376A109
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 30 Enero 1979
    ...1123, 1126; Wims v. State (1977), Ind., 370 N.E.2d 358; Vuncannon v. State (1970), 254 Ind. 206, 258 N.E.2d 639; Gaddis v. State (1969), 253 Ind. 73, 251 N.E.2d 658; Penn v. State (1957), 237 Ind. 374, 146 N.E.2d 240. If the evidence had not otherwise been insufficient in this case, I feel ......
  • Sizemore v. State, 1-1277A287
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 29 Enero 1979
    ...evidence tends only to support a conclusion of guilt it is insufficient; it must do so beyond a reasonable doubt. Gaddis v. State (1969), (253) Ind. (73), 251 N.E.2d 658. From our view of the evidence as to whether or not the appellant touched the prosecuting witness in a rude, insolent and......
  • Albrecht v. State, 49S00-9901-CR-55.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 19 Octubre 2000 an invocation of the incredible dubiosity rule. See 737 N.E.2d 732 Tillman v. State, 642 N.E.2d 221, 223 (Ind. 1994); Gaddis v. State, 253 Ind. 73, 80-81, 251 N.E.2d 658, 661-62 (1969). Under this rule, a court will impinge on the jury's responsibility to judge witness credibility only w......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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