Gutierrez v. State, No. 778S152

Docket NºNo. 778S152
Citation271 Ind. 639, 395 N.E.2d 218
Case DateSeptember 27, 1979
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

Page 218

395 N.E.2d 218
271 Ind. 639
Samuel GUTIERREZ, William McCall, James Slagley, Appellants,
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellees.
No. 778S152.
Supreme Court of Indiana.
Sept. 27, 1979.

[271 Ind. 640]

Page 220

Donald P. Levinson, Merrillville, for appellants.

Theodore L. Sendak, Atty. Gen., Alembert W. Brayton, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellees.

PIVARNIK, Justice.

Appellants Samuel Gutierrez, William McCall and James Slagley, along with Robert W. Taggart, Sr., and Ray Vagus, were indicted by a Lake County Grand Jury for the unlawful and intentional killing of Leo Sabonis, Sr. Ray Vagus pleaded guilty in exchange for testimony given at trial. Gutierrez, McCall, Slagley and Taggart were tried jointly to a jury in Lake Superior Court, Criminal Division, and all were found guilty. While all of the defendants had separate counsel at trial, Gutierrez, McCall and Slagley prosecute this appeal jointly. Taggart does not join in the present appeal. Some of the issues presented are applicable to all three appellants, while some involve only one or two.

Seven issues are presented for review on this appeal, concerning alleged trial court error in:

(1) denying each of the appellant's numerous motions for severance;

(2) admitting into evidence testimony regarding prior acts of misconduct by these appellants;

(3) denying appellants' motion for mistrial based on references to [271 Ind. 641] the incarceration of persons who were allegedly members of an organization to which appellants also belonged;

(4) failing to strike the entire testimony of witness Darryl Breckman;

(5) allowing testimony from a person whose name was not listed on the prosecution's list of witnesses;

(6) denying appellant Slagley's motion to suppress and reject his confession; and

(7) denying appellant McCall's motion to suppress and reject his confession.

I.

Appellants first argue that the trial court erred in refusing to grant their motions for severance. They present two theories in support of this argument. First, they contend that the nature of their defense merited severing their trial from that of Taggart. Second, each of the appellants urges that his Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against him was violated by the trial court's refusal to grant separate trials. We find both of these contentions to be without merit.

Appellants' defenses were based on a theory of duress and coercion by their co-defendant Taggart. They claim the trial court precluded their attempts to present evidence of their fear of Taggart or of the duress under which they allegedly acted. Appellants contend they were unable to "assassinate" Taggart's character in attempting to show their fear of him and the consequent duress. In their view, this prevented them from presenting a "full and complete defense."

Under Ind.Code (Burns 1975) § 35-3.1-1-11(b), "the court shall order a separate trial of defendants whenever the court determines that a separate trial . . . is appropriate to promote a fair determination of the guilt or innocence of a defendant."

Page 221

Appellants must show on appeal that in light of what actually occurred at trial, the denial of a separate trial subjected them to such prejudice that the trial court may be said to have abused its discretion in refusing to grant their motions for severance. Rogers v. State, (1978) Ind., 375 N.E.2d 1089, 1091; Ortiz v. State, (1976) 265 Ind. 549, 561, 356 N.E.2d 1188, 1195.

[271 Ind. 642] It is true that appellants were prevented in some situations from eliciting certain testimony regarding their fear of co-defendant Taggart. However, much of this evidence would have been either self-serving or in the form of testimony which the particular witness was not qualified to give. Further, appellants were permitted to present competent evidence regarding the duress and coercion under which they allegedly operated. They presented evidence that Taggart was the head of an organization or gang of which they were members. Testimony was also presented which reflected appellants' fears that Taggart would kill them or their families or would have them killed if they did not obey his orders or if they attempted to get out of the gang. In fact, then, it was possible to present a duress defense based on appellants' fear of Taggart without impermissibly assassinating Taggart's character. Thus, the trial court's refusal to allow appellants to attack Taggart's character did not prevent them from presenting a full and complete defense. We find no merit to this argument. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in overruling appellants' motions for severance on this ground.

Appellants further argue they should each have been granted severances on constitutional grounds. They contend the confessions of appellants McCall and Slagley contained ineffective deletions of references to co-defendants. Therefore, the argument runs, they were implicated in out-of-court statements which were presented to the jury, and thus denied their Sixth Amendment right to confront the witnesses against them under Bruton v. United States, (1968) 391 U.S. 123, 88 S.Ct. 1620, 20 L.Ed.2d 476. It is true that redacted confessions of appellants McCall and Slagley were admitted into evidence and read to the jury. However, we find no error in the trial court's handling of this matter.

Bruton involved a situation where the co-defendant who made the out-of-court confession exercised his Fifth Amendment right to not testify at the joint trial. Under those circumstances, if the confession implicates the asserter's co-defendant, the effect of admitting the unredacted confession is to admit evidence which the jury may apply against the asserter's co-defendant, without permitting the co-defendant to cross-examine the asserter. In the case before us, however, appellant Slagley did testify on his own behalf at trial. Therefore, he was subject to cross-examination concerning the confession, and appellants McCall [271 Ind. 643] and Gutierrez were not denied their Sixth Amendment confrontation rights by the admission of Slagley's confession. Bruton v. United States, supra ; Ortiz v. State, (1976) 265 Ind. 549, 558, 356 N.E.2d 1188, 1194.

Appellant McCall, on the other hand, chose not to testify at trial. His confession was redacted to delete references to his co-defendants. We think the trial court effectively deleted the impermissible references in McCall's confession. Specific names were deleted from McCall's statement in only seven places. The resulting blanks, however, did not lead to a reasonable inference that McCall was referring to his co-defendants. Several times in the course of his statement, McCall referred by name to other persons who were involved in the events but who were not co-defendants. He also used the pronouns "we" and "he" in describing the activities of himself and...

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32 practice notes
  • Johnson v. State, No. 1282S500
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 11 Enero 1985
    ...than Lingler. The trial court, therefore, did not err in denying the motion for mistrial on these grounds. Gutierrez v. State, (1979) 271 Ind. 639, 395 N.E.2d 218, 221; See Williams v. State, (1978) 269 Ind. 193, 379 N.E.2d The third claim of error with reference to motions for mistrial con......
  • Norton v. State, No. 377S185
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 4 Agosto 1980
    ...is left largely to the trial court's discretion. Ashbaugh v. State, (1980) Ind., 400 N.E.2d 767, 772; Gutierrez v. State, (1979) Ind., 395 N.E.2d 218, 223. Appellant was permitted to cross-examine these witnesses extensively in an attempt to adversely affect their credibility. We do not bel......
  • Cobb v. State, No. 778S142
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 7 Noviembre 1980
    ...question and receive the answer that it did. See, e. g., Ashbaugh v. State, (1980) Ind., 400 N.E.2d 767; Gutierrez v. State, (1979) Ind., 395 N.E.2d 218. Again, defense counsel made no request that the jury be admonished or that the case be withdrawn from the jury. It does not appear that C......
  • Lawson v. State, No. 1177S797
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 25 Noviembre 1980
    ...of a separate crime may be admissible if probative on the question of motive. Norton v. State, supra; Gutierrez v. State, (1979) Ind., 395 N.E.2d 218, 222; Pierce v. State, (1977) 267 Ind. 240, 248, 369 N.E.2d 617, 621. As we explained above, this exhibit was clearly probative on the questi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
32 cases
  • Johnson v. State, No. 1282S500
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 11 Enero 1985
    ...than Lingler. The trial court, therefore, did not err in denying the motion for mistrial on these grounds. Gutierrez v. State, (1979) 271 Ind. 639, 395 N.E.2d 218, 221; See Williams v. State, (1978) 269 Ind. 193, 379 N.E.2d The third claim of error with reference to motions for mistrial con......
  • Norton v. State, No. 377S185
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 4 Agosto 1980
    ...is left largely to the trial court's discretion. Ashbaugh v. State, (1980) Ind., 400 N.E.2d 767, 772; Gutierrez v. State, (1979) Ind., 395 N.E.2d 218, 223. Appellant was permitted to cross-examine these witnesses extensively in an attempt to adversely affect their credibility. We do not bel......
  • Cobb v. State, No. 778S142
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 7 Noviembre 1980
    ...question and receive the answer that it did. See, e. g., Ashbaugh v. State, (1980) Ind., 400 N.E.2d 767; Gutierrez v. State, (1979) Ind., 395 N.E.2d 218. Again, defense counsel made no request that the jury be admonished or that the case be withdrawn from the jury. It does not appear that C......
  • Lawson v. State, No. 1177S797
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 25 Noviembre 1980
    ...of a separate crime may be admissible if probative on the question of motive. Norton v. State, supra; Gutierrez v. State, (1979) Ind., 395 N.E.2d 218, 222; Pierce v. State, (1977) 267 Ind. 240, 248, 369 N.E.2d 617, 621. As we explained above, this exhibit was clearly probative on the questi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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