Grund v. State, 52S00-9408-CR-00725

Citation671 N.E.2d 411
Decision Date07 August 1996
Docket NumberNo. 52S00-9408-CR-00725,52S00-9408-CR-00725
PartiesSusan GRUND, Appellant (Defendant Below), v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff Below).
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

Susan K. Carpenter, Public Defender, David P. Freund, Deputy Public Defender, Indianapolis, for Appellant.

Pamela Carter, Attorney General, Cynthia L. Ploughe, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, for Appellee.

SELBY, Justice.

The defendant, Susan Grund ("Susan"), was convicted of murdering 1 her husband, James Grund ("Jim"). The trial court sentenced her to sixty years, the maximum term of years for murder. 2 She now appeals from the conviction and the sentence and raises the following three issues: (1) whether the trial court erred by allowing hearsay evidence, (2) whether defendant was denied her Constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel, and (3) whether imposition of the maximum sentence was manifestly unreasonable.

We affirm both the conviction and the sentence.


In the spring and summer of 1992, Susan and Jim Grund were experiencing marital problems. They were arguing frequently, and they were seeing a marriage counselor. Although there was some talk of divorce, this was not what Susan wanted. Because her husband was a prominent attorney, she feared losing custody of the children, and she feared losing Jim's financial support. Thus, Susan needed an alternative solution.

On the afternoon of July 4, 1992, Susan arrived unexpectedly at the home of David Grund, the victim's son by a previous marriage. She had been at the county fairgrounds, and as she returned home, she stopped in, claiming to have found a new shortcut home from the fairgrounds. Defendant questioned David about a handgun that he had recently purchased. David showed her where he kept his 9 mm semi-automatic weapon, and allowed her to handle it. Before leaving, defendant noticed that the storm door was broken and was secured by a shoestring. Defendant also inquired about where David and his girlfriend, Suzane, kept their rottweiler puppy when no one was at home.

Around 2:00 p.m. that day, David and Suzane attended a barbecue at the home of Suzane's parents. Defendant and her husband, along with their two children, thirteen-year-old Jacob and seven-year-old Tanelle, arrived around 4:00 p.m. and stayed until around 6:00 p.m. Shortly before dark, defendant telephoned Suzane's parents to find out if David and Suzane planned to attend the fireworks display. She was told that David was not feeling well, so they would be staying at Suzane's parents' home for a while longer, then they would return home. When David and Suzane arrived home around 10:30 p.m., they found that their home had been burglarized. Although cash and jewelry were in plain sight, the only thing missing was David's gun. Meanwhile, Susan had taken her two children and several other boys to see the fireworks. Unfortunately, when they got there, Susan was unable to find a place to park. She dropped off the boys and kept Tanelle with her. They rendezvoused at the ice cream stand shortly after the fireworks were over.

On August 3, 1992, defendant arranged for Jacob to spend the night with his cousin, Steven, in the newly acquired family camper. She also arranged for Steven's sister, Andrea, to spend the night at her home with Tanelle. At approximately 10:00 p.m., she left the two boys at the campground. Now alone, defendant went to obtain beverages for the boys. About an hour later, she picked up the girls at her mother's house, and the three arrived at the camper around 11:15 p.m. She gave the beverages to the boys and took the girls home.

Just prior to midnight, defendant called the Miami County emergency phone number to request an ambulance. She told the dispatcher that she had found her husband lying on the couch in the bedroom with blood coming out of his eyes and mouth. Jim Grund was already dead when the emergency workers arrived. The cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head. Although there were no signs of struggle, there were two open suitcases on the floor with women's clothing strewn around them, and several dresser drawers were open with items pulled out. There were no signs of forced entry.

Detectives found a spent shell casing on the floor and recovered a spent bullet from the couch in the area where Jim's head had been. Both appeared to be from a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun. The detectives were aware that a similar weapon recently had been stolen from David's house. The next morning, they asked David for locations where he might have fired the weapon. As a result of this questioning, police recovered a bullet from a telephone pole which was located across the street from David's former residence. This bullet and the one recovered from the murder scene had been fired from the same gun.

Approximately two weeks after the murder, Susan, Jacob, Tanelle, and Susan's mother moved from Peru to Vincennes. On September 3, a former neighbor informed Susan that police were searching her home in Peru. That night, she met her sister, Darlene Worden, at a McDonald's near Indianapolis. As the two women drove to Peru, Susan confessed that she had killed her husband. According to defendant, it was supposed to be a double suicide, but she had been unable to kill herself. She claimed that instead of shooting himself, Jim made her shoot him so that his will would remain effective.

When Susan and her sister arrived at Susan's Peru home, defendant went directly to the laundry room, and told Darlene that "it" was still there. When they left the house, Susan was carrying two teddy bears, one of which had been ripped open across the back. She later admitted that she removed the gun from the house by hiding it in one of the bears. Susan then returned to Vincennes. Sometime later, Darlene's husband brought a bag of cement to her in Vincennes.

Around the beginning of November, Darlene happened to see the detective who was investigating the murder. Darlene believed that her mother was aware of Susan's actions, and she feared repercussions, both for herself and for her mother. She also believed that the gun was in Susan's home, and she was concerned for the children's safety. As a result, Darlene told the detective about Susan's confession. Susan was arrested on November 4, 1992.

The next summer, when Susan's mother was planning to move back to Peru, she found a family heirloom, a large copper kettle, in the attic. It was filled with cement. She took it back to Peru and gave it to the police. When police broke the cement, they found a 9 mm semi-automatic weapon, the same gun which had been stolen from David's house and used to kill Jim Grund.

I. Hearsay Testimony

Defendant argues that the trial court erred in admitting various hearsay testimony. Not surprisingly, the testimony of these witnesses does not fit the defendant's version of events. Defendant's arguments in this regard evoke the words of Sir Walter Scott:

O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive. 3

At trial, defendant's sister, Darlene, testified about a discussion she had with Susan, Tanelle, and Jacob, which involved the events on the Fourth of July. According to Darlene, Tanelle told the others that after the boys were dropped off to see the fireworks, she and her mother did not go straight to the ice cream parlor as her mother claimed, but instead went for a drive in the country. Susan then repeatedly insisted that Tanelle's story was not correct. Defense counsel objected to Darlene's testimony on the basis of hearsay. The State argued that Tanelle's statements were not offered for the truth of the matter asserted, but rather to show that they were contradicted by Susan. The trial judge overruled the objection and allowed the testimony. Defendant now appeals, arguing that the only possible relevance of Tanelle's statements is for the truth of the matter asserted; if Tanelle's statements are correct then defendant would have had an opportunity to steal David's gun.

Hearsay is an out-of-court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. IND.EVIDENCE RULE 801(c); Hughes v. State, 546 N.E.2d 1203 (Ind.1989). The same statement offered for another purpose is not hearsay. Blue v. Brooks, 261 Ind. 338, 303 N.E.2d 269 (1973). Tanelle's statements were not offered to prove that the defendant and Tanelle took a drive in the country, but rather to prove that Susan was trying to coerce Tanelle into changing her memory. Such action is relevant to show defendant's consciousness of guilt. Grimes v. State, 450 N.E.2d 512, 521 (Ind.1983). The State also introduced evidence that the defendant tried to coerce other family members into changing their stories about the night of the murder. (R. at 988 (Darlene discussing the hour time gap in Susan's whereabouts and getting "these stories straight" to account for Susan's time); R. at 1291-92 (Jacob discussing the same time gap and how his Furthermore, even if Tanelle's statements had amounted to hearsay, such an erroneous admission would not warrant reversal in this case because Darlene's testimony was merely cumulative. Hicks v. State, 536 N.E.2d 496, 499 (Ind.1989); Rhoton v. State, 483 N.E.2d 51, 54 (Ind.1985). Jacob also testified to the substance of Tanelle's out-of-court statements, and he did so without objection by defense counsel.

mother would "correct us, so it wouldn't sound as bad")). The contradiction of Tanelle's statements shows that defendant acted similarly regarding both important time periods in this case, thus ensnaring her entire family in the tangled web of her deceit.

We find that Tanelle's statements were not admitted for the truth of the matter asserted, and are not hearsay. Furthermore, had the statements been hearsay, we would find no reversible error as Darlene's testimony regarding these statements was merely cumulative.

II. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Susan contends that she was denied her...

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