Harris v. State, No. 473S75

Docket NºNo. 473S75
Citation262 Ind. 208, 314 N.E.2d 45
Case DateJuly 24, 1974

Page 45

314 N.E.2d 45
262 Ind. 208
Nathaniel Harold HARRIS, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee.
No. 473S75.
Supreme Court of Indiana.
July 24, 1974.
Rehearing Denied Sept. 16, 1974.

[262 Ind. 209]

Page 46

James L. Brand, Michael J. Tosick, Greenfield, for appellant.

Theodore L. Sendak, Atty. Gen. of Ind., A. Frank Gleaves, III, Deputy Atty. Gen., for appellee.

ARTERBURN, Chief Justice.

This appeal is from a judgment of the Superior Court of Hancock County finding Appellant guilty, after a jury trial, of second degree murder. IC 1971, 35--13--4--1 (Burns' Ind.Stat.Ann. § 10--3401 (1956 Repl.)). For an understanding of the numerous issues raised by Appellant a recitation of the facts relevant to the alleged crime and a recitation of the history of the legal proceedings themselves is required.

At about 6:00 p.m. on October 12, 1965, Indianapolis police investigated a burglary report at 2327 N. Meridian. Inside the building they found Appellant who was not authorized to be there. Appellant was arrested and the paddy wagon was called. Appellant was placed in the rear of the paddy wagon and the arrest slip handed to Officer Graham, the driver of the wagon. A few minutes later two police officers entered the fourth floor elevator of Police Headquarters, located about three (3) miles from 2327 N. Meridian, and found Officer Graham's hat on the floor of the elevator. The officers rode the elevator to the basement where they found Officer

Page 47

Graham lying on the floor in a pool of blood with a gunshot wound in the head. Appellant's arrest slip was clutched in the officer's hand. Appellant's car coat was found nearby. Officer Graham's gun and badge were on the floor a few feet from his body. Officer Graham died from the gunshot wound.

Two days later Appellant was found hiding in rafters in a home in Indianapolis. A fingerprint expert testified that a palm print lifted from Officer Graham's revolver matched the palm print of Appellant. We believe that on appeal this record--with inferences favorable to the State--is sufficient circumstantial evidence for the conviction. Blackburn v. [262 Ind. 210] State, (1973) Ind., 291 N.E.2d 686, and cases cited therein; McAfee v. State, (1973) Ind., 291 N.E.2d 554.

Appellant was arraigned on November 18, 1965, and entered a plea of not guilty before the Honorable Saul Rabb, Presiding Judge of the Marion Criminal Court, Division II. Appellant filed a plea of insanity and was examined by two court-appointed doctors. On January 20, 1966, Drs. Hull and Smith filed their joint report, and on January 25, 1966, after a hearing, the Court found Appellant incompetent to stand trial and ordered him committed to the Norman M. Beatty Memorial Hospital, Division of Maximum Security.

Three and one-half years later, June, 1969, Dr. Frank D. Hogle, Medical Director, Maximum Security Division, Beatty Memorial Hospital, certified that Appellant was competent to stand trial. On June 20, 1969, Appellant was informed by the Court of the nature of the proceedings against him. On August 7, 1969, Appellant filed a Motion for Psychiatric Examination. He was again examined by Drs. Hull and Smith who filed their joint report on September 4, 1969. On September 8, 1969, a bench trial commenced, and on October 28, 1969, the Court found the Appellant Guilty of First Degree Murder. A Motion for a New Trial was overruled on December 31, 1971. On April 12, 1971, Appellant, pro se, filed a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief. On May 27, 1971, a hearing was held on this P.C. Petition and the Trial Court ordered a new trial ab initio.

Appellant took a change of venue to Hancock County and received appointment of counsel. On March 17, 1972, Appellant moved for a speedy trial. This motion was granted and on May 10, 1972, trial before a jury was commenced. On May 23, 1972, the jury returned the verdict of guilty of Second Degree Murder.

II

We begin with a consideration of those issues revolving around Appellant's plea of insanity. Appellant suggests that [262 Ind. 211] because the trial court did not conduct a hearing to determine his competency to stand trial he was denied due process of law. Pate v. Robinson, (1966), 383 U.S. 375, 86 S.Ct. 836, 15 L.Ed.2d 815. We agree with Appellant that Pate, supra, holds that the trial court must conduct a hearing to determine competency when a bona fide doubt as to a defendant's competency to stand trial arises. Our statute embodies the same concept:

Commitment before trial--Subsequent actions--When at any time before the trial of any criminal cause or during the progress thereof and before the final submission of the cause to the court or jury trying the same, the court, either from his own knowledge or upon the suggestion of any person, has reasonable ground for believing the defendant to be insane, he shall immediately fix a time for a hearing to determine the question of the defendant's sanity and shall appoint two (2) competent disinterested physicians who shall examine the defendant upon the question of his sanity and testify concerning the same at the hearing. At the hearing, other evidence may be introduced to prove the defendant's sanity or insanity. If the court shall find that the defendant has comprehension

Page 48

sufficient to understand the nature of the criminal action against him and the proceedings thereon and to make his defense the trial shall not be delayed or continued on the ground of the alleged insanity of the defendant. If the court shall find that the defendant has not comprehension sufficient to understand the proceedings and make his defense, the trial shall be delayed or continued on the ground of the alleged insanity of the defendant. If the court shall find that the defendant has not comprehension sufficient to understand the proceedings and make his defense, the court shall order the defendant committed to the department of mental health, to be confined by the department in an appropriate psychiatric institution. Whenever the defendant shall become sane the superintendent of the state psychiatric hospital shall certify the fact to the proper court, who shall enter an order on his record directing the sheriff to return the defendant, or the court may enter such order in the first instance whenever he shall be sufficiently advised of the defendant's restoration to sanity. Upon the return to court of any defendant so committed he or she shall then be placed upon trial for the criminal offense the same as if no delay or postponement has (had) occurred by reason of defendant's[262 Ind. 212] insanity. (Acts 1951, ch. 238, § 2, p. 682; 1961, ch. 151, § 2, p. 329; 1963, ch. 91, § 1, p. 58; 1967, ch. 291, § 2, p. 946.)

IC 1971, 35--5--3--2 (Burns' Ind.Stat.Ann. § 9--1706a (1973 Supp.)). The question, then, becomes one of weighing the evidence. Was it an abuse of discretion for the trial judge to think that no 'reasonable ground' to doubt defendant's competency had appeared? In making such an inquiry, we must remember that we are here concerned with competency, the ability to aid in one's defense, Pate v. Robinson, supra, which is not necessarily identical to or contemporaneous with that legal insanity which prevents the imputation of criminal responsibility. The trial was replete with testimony concerning the condition of Appellant's mind on October 12, 1965, the day of the shooting, but the only evidence relevant to the separate issue of competency is the following:

(1) Dr. Farnsworth, who treated Appellant at Beatty Memorial during the period 1966--1969 and who talked with Appellant for forty-five (45) minutes at trial (May, 1972) testified that Appellant had at the present time amnesia and could not remember events surrounding October 12, 1965. Contra, Reagon v. State, (1961) 253 Ind. 143, 251 N.E.2d 829.

(2) Dr. Smith, who had examined Appellant in 1965, in 1969, and in March, 1972, on the other hand, gave the following opinion as to whether or not Appellant was at the time of trial suffering amnesia:

'They told me at length about this prolonged amnesia, I think it was four years. I have never seen a case of amnesia last that long following shock treatment. He felt that it was due to the shock treatments which nearly always produces a degree of amnesia but four years is an all American record as far as I'm concerned. I never heard of it nor have I heard of anybody that has.'

(3) The trial court had before it the following letter dated May 27, 1969, from the Medical Director of the Beatty Memorial Hospital Maximum Security Division:

'Mr. Nathaniel Harris was admitted to Beatty Memorial Hospital, Maximum Security Division on January 26, 1966, [262 Ind. 213] from the Marion County Criminal Court, Division II, the Honorable Saul I. Rabb presiding, as lacking sufficient...

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11 practice notes
  • Holmes v. State, No. 49S00-9002-DP-00104
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 7 Agosto 1996
    ...are unique and complex. There is no special claim of prejudice. The rule is properly applied in criminal cases. Harris v. State, 262 Ind. 208, 314 N.E.2d 45 (1974), reh'g denied. The rule and its application here are eminently fair. The rule sanctions, and the trial court permitted, a discr......
  • Danks v. State, No. 46A03-9908-PC-330.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 3 Agosto 2000
    ...19 incident. With respect to this key fact, there is controlling precedent from our supreme court directly on point. In Harris v. State, 262 Ind. 208, 214, 314 N.E.2d 45, 49 (1974), it was held that, for purposes of the "reason for the delay" factor of the Barker speedy trial test, the thre......
  • Buchanan v. State, No. 175S18
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 13 Agosto 1975
    ...The [263 Ind. 368] court's ruling will not be disturbed unless there is a clear abuse of that discretion. Harris v. State (1974), Ind., 314 N.E.2d 45; Myslinski v. State (1971), 257 Ind. 453, 275 N.E.2d 544; Maynard v. State (1971), 257 Ind. 336, 274 N.E.2d In his brief, Appellant's appella......
  • Shindler v. State, No. 1--374A45
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 14 Octubre 1975
    ...by said violation. Not every violation of such an order supports a motion for mistrial or a reversal. Harris v. State (1974), Ind., 314 N.E.2d 45; Wright v. State (1972), 259 Ind. 197, 285 N.E.2d 650. Allowing a witness to testify after a violation of such an order is within the discretion ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Holmes v. State, No. 49S00-9002-DP-00104
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 7 Agosto 1996
    ...are unique and complex. There is no special claim of prejudice. The rule is properly applied in criminal cases. Harris v. State, 262 Ind. 208, 314 N.E.2d 45 (1974), reh'g denied. The rule and its application here are eminently fair. The rule sanctions, and the trial court permitted, a discr......
  • Danks v. State, No. 46A03-9908-PC-330.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 3 Agosto 2000
    ...19 incident. With respect to this key fact, there is controlling precedent from our supreme court directly on point. In Harris v. State, 262 Ind. 208, 214, 314 N.E.2d 45, 49 (1974), it was held that, for purposes of the "reason for the delay" factor of the Barker speedy trial test, the thre......
  • Buchanan v. State, No. 175S18
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 13 Agosto 1975
    ...The [263 Ind. 368] court's ruling will not be disturbed unless there is a clear abuse of that discretion. Harris v. State (1974), Ind., 314 N.E.2d 45; Myslinski v. State (1971), 257 Ind. 453, 275 N.E.2d 544; Maynard v. State (1971), 257 Ind. 336, 274 N.E.2d In his brief, Appellant's appella......
  • Shindler v. State, No. 1--374A45
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 14 Octubre 1975
    ...by said violation. Not every violation of such an order supports a motion for mistrial or a reversal. Harris v. State (1974), Ind., 314 N.E.2d 45; Wright v. State (1972), 259 Ind. 197, 285 N.E.2d 650. Allowing a witness to testify after a violation of such an order is within the discretion ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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