Garman v. State, 031519 INCA, 18A-CR-1275

Docket Nº:18A-CR-1275
Opinion Judge:TAVITAS, JUDGE.
Party Name:Cody N. Garman, Appellant-Defendant, v. State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
Attorney:Attorney for Appellant Donald R. Shuler Goshen, Indiana. Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Caroline G. Templeton Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.
Case Date:March 15, 2019
Court:Court of Appeals of Indiana

Cody N. Garman, Appellant-Defendant,


State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

No. 18A-CR-1275

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 15, 2019

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 Elkhart Circuit Court Trial Court Cause No. 20C01-1705-MR-004, The Honorable Michael A. Christofeno, Judge.

Attorney for Appellant Donald R. Shuler Goshen, Indiana.

Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Caroline G. Templeton Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.



Case Summary

[¶1] Cody Garman appeals his sentence for involuntary manslaughter, a Level 5 felony. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.


[¶2] Garman raises two issues, which we restate as follows: I. Whether the trial court erred in failing to award Garman good time credit.

II. Whether Garman's sentence is inappropriate.


[¶3] On May 25, 2017, Garman posted a Craigslist advertisement under the "casual encounters" section of the website seeking sexual acts in Elkhart County, where Garman lived. David Swartley responded to Garman's Craigslist advertisement that night between 1:00 a.m. and 1:40 a.m. After Garman and Swartley exchanged messages, they agreed to meet. Swartley arrived at Garman's house at approximately 3:00 a.m. Garman left the house and got in Swartley's vehicle in the passenger seat.

[¶4] Swartley drove his vehicle around the back of Garman's house because Garman lived with his family, and Garman did not want them to see him with Swartley. Garman and Swartley engaged in various sexual acts. Garman claimed Swartley also made several other comments and attempted to perform other sexual acts on Garman, which Garman told Swartley he did not want to do.

[¶5] At some point during the interaction in the backseat, Garman testified that he felt Swartley drip liquid from a "vial" into Garman's nose. Tr. Vol. IV p. 112. Garman stated that he did not "pass all the way out," but that he "faded out." Id. When Garman "woke up," Swartley was on top of him, and Garman "freaked out," "kicked [Swartley] away," and struck Swartley in the face with his fist. Id. Garman then got in the front seat of Swartley's vehicle and drove away with Swartley still in the back seat. Garman found a small pathway in the woods and left Swartley's vehicle there. Garman heard Swartley call for help as Garman fled the scene on foot.

[¶6] Later that morning, at approximately 8:20 a.m., a person who lived in the area noticed the parked vehicle and called police. Corporal Andrew Ahlersmeyer with the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department responded to the call and found the vehicle in the woods in the 24000 block of Ne Ce Dah Drive in Elkhart. When Corporal Ahlersmeyer approached the vehicle in the woods, he noticed a shirtless male, later identified as Swartley, in the backseat of the vehicle, and positioned in an "unusual" way. Tr. Vol. II p. 83. At the time Corporal Ahlersmeyer approached the vehicle, Swartley appeared to be alive. Corporal Ahlersmeyer called an ambulance to the scene. Emergency personnel, who arrived at the scene, were not immediately able to find keys to the vehicle, and Garman later told detectives that he had thrown the keys to the vehicle in the wooded area.

[¶7] Once medics got Swartley into the ambulance, he "postured, "1 in a way that was indicative of a head injury. Garman's beating of Swartley resulted in a subdural hematoma, a kick bruise to Swartley's shoulder, a laceration to the top of Swartley's head, bruises to both sides of Swartley's face, three lacerations to different areas of Swartley's mouth, a lacerated ear, broken cartilage, extensive bruising to Swartley's head, serious trauma, neck contusions, and critical brain trauma. Swartley's delayed treatment due to Garman secreting Swartley's car and abandoning Swartley exacerbated Swartley's injuries. Swartley's death was declared a homicide as a result of "multiple injuries" from blunt force trauma and abandonment after this beating.2 Tr. Vol. III p. 144.

[¶8]Subsequently, Garman was charged with murder. The jury trial commenced on March 19, 2018. During the trial, Garman contacted his friend, Regina Uribe, and asked Uribe to contact jurors outside of the court proceedings and give the jury information regarding Swartley. Specifically, Garman wanted Uribe to tell a member of the jury that she knew someone whom Swartley had allegedly raped. There is no indication in the record that Swartley was ever convicted of rape. Additionally, Garman asked Uribe to encourage Garman's grandmother to make the same allegation. On the phone call, Garman advised Uribe that the jury would likely send Garman home that day if Uribe was to communicate that message to the jury.

[¶9] The State published the audio recording of Garman's call from the Elkhart County Jail to Uribe during Garman's trial. Garman testified in his own defense. On cross-examination, when asked about the call, Garman indicated that he wanted the jury to "know the truth" about Swartley.3 Tr. Vol. IV p. 186. No evidence, however, was ever located that Uribe or Garman's grandmother ever contacted a juror. The jury convicted Garman of involuntary manslaughter, a Level 5 felony, as a lesser included offense of murder.

[¶10] Garman was sentenced on April 19, 2018...

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