Harrison v. State, No. 65S00-9105-DP-380

Docket NºNo. 65S00-9105-DP-380
Citation659 N.E.2d 480
Case DateDecember 18, 1995
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

Page 480

659 N.E.2d 480
James P. HARRISON, Appellant (Defendant below),
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff below).
No. 65S00-9105-DP-380.
Supreme Court of Indiana.
Dec. 18, 1995.
Rehearing Denied April 10, 1996.

Page 481

William H. Bender, Allyn, Givens & Bender, Poseyville, for Appellant.

Pamela Carter, Attorney General, Arthur Thaddeus Perry, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, for Appellee.

ON DIRECT APPEAL

SULLIVAN, Justice.

In Harrison v. State, 644 N.E.2d 1243 (Ind.1995), we affirmed James W. Harrison's convictions for the knowing Murder of Tia Forsee and for the Felony Murder of Jordan Hanmore but remanded the case to the Posey Circuit Court for a more specific sentencing order or statement of reasons for selecting the death sentences it imposed. Following remand and a new sentencing order, we affirm defendant's death sentences.

Discussion

Our original opinion in this case sets forth the facts of this case, our analysis in affirming the convictions, our analysis affirming the constitutionality of the death penalty in Indiana, and our review of the penalty phase of defendant's trial. In that analysis and review we found no reversible error. We find it unnecessary to restate those facts and that analysis and review here. The trial court has responded to our request for a more specific sentencing order and so we now complete our death sentence review by examining the trial court's sentencing determination.

I

Under our death penalty statute, the trial court has certain duties once the jury makes its recommendation. First, the trial court must find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that at least one of the aggravating circumstances listed in the death penalty statute exists. Ind.Code § 35-50-2-9(e)(1) (1988) (currently Ind.Code § 35-50-2-9(i)(1) (1993)). Second, the trial court must find that any mitigating circumstances that exist are outweighed by the aggravating circumstance or circumstances. Ind.Code § 35-50-2-9(e)(2) (1988) (currently Ind.Code § 35-50-2-9(i)(2) (1993)). Third, before making the final determination of the sentence, the trial court must consider the jury's recommendation. Ind.Code § 35-50-2-9(e) (1988). However, the court is not bound by the jury's recommendation. Id.

Starting with the third of these three factors, that the trial court must consider the jury's recommendation, the trial court considered the recommendation of the jury that the death penalty be imposed.

In imposing the death sentence for the murder of Tia Forsee, the trial court found that the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt two of the aggravating circumstances listed in the death penalty statute--that the Defendant had been convicted of another murder 1 and that the victim of the

Page 482

murder was less than twelve years of age. 2 The record and the law support these findings.

In imposing the death sentence for the murder of Jordan Hanmore, the trial court found that the state had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that three of the aggravating circumstances listed in the death penalty statute existed--that the Defendant had been convicted of another murder, 3 that the victim of the murder was less than twelve years of age, 4 and that the Defendant "killed Jordan Hanmore during the commission of Arson." 5 The record and the law support the findings as to the aggravators concerning conviction of another murder and age of the victim. However, the law does not support the finding concerning the aggravator relating to killing during the commission of arson.

Indiana Code § 35-50-2-9(b)(1) (1988) (currently Ind.Code § 35-50-2-9(b)(1)(A) (1993)) provides that it is an aggravating circumstance for purposes of imposing the death penalty when the defendant commits "the murder by intentionally killing the victim while committing ... [a]rson." This is important because, for purposes of the guilt phase of the trial, the Defendant was charged with and convicted of the felony murder of Jordan Hanmore. The State was not required to prove intent to kill to obtain this conviction. Harrison, 644 N.E.2d at 1248. Thus, during the sentencing phase of the trial the state had the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the killing by arson was intentional if this aggravating circumstance was to be used to support a sentence of death. The trial court made no finding as to whether or not the state proved that the Defendant intentionally killed Jordan Hanmore by arson. 6 We will discuss the impact of this error on the sentence in a moment.

Defendant argued at the sentencing hearing that there were four mitigating circumstances. First, he argued that the evidence supporting guilt in this case was not overwhelming enough to justify a sentence of death. There was no...

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17 practice notes
  • Lowery v. Anderson, No. IP 96-71-C-H/G.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • July 6, 1999
    ...whether the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances. Ind.Code § 35-50-2-9(e)(2) & (k); Harrison v. State, 659 N.E.2d 480, 482 (Ind.1995). The court properly instructed the jury on this point, and there is no reason to think that the jury failed to understand and foll......
  • Harrison v. Anderson, No. IP 99-0933-C-B/S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • January 22, 2004
    ...sentencing order. After the trial court complied with the remand, the imposition of the death sentence was affirmed in Harrison v. State, 659 N.E.2d 480 Page 696 1995). The trial court's subsequent denial of Harrison's petition for post-conviction relief was affirmed on appeal in Harrison v......
  • Harrison v. McBride, No. 04-1398.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • October 27, 2005
    ...court complied with the remand, and the imposition of the death sentence was affirmed by the state supreme court. See Harrison v. State, 659 N.E.2d 480 (Ind.1995). The state trial court subsequently denied Mr. Harrison's petition for state post-conviction relief; the Supreme Court of Indian......
  • Harrison v. State, No. 65S00-9605-PD-318
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • February 9, 1999
    ...but remanded the case for a more specific sentencing order. The death sentences were affirmed after remand. Harrison v. State, 659 N.E.2d 480 (Ind.1995). Harrison then filed a petition for postconviction relief. After a four-day hearing, the trial court denied relief, and this appeal At the......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • Lowery v. Anderson, No. IP 96-71-C-H/G.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • July 6, 1999
    ...whether the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances. Ind.Code § 35-50-2-9(e)(2) & (k); Harrison v. State, 659 N.E.2d 480, 482 (Ind.1995). The court properly instructed the jury on this point, and there is no reason to think that the jury failed to understand and foll......
  • Harrison v. Anderson, No. IP 99-0933-C-B/S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • January 22, 2004
    ...sentencing order. After the trial court complied with the remand, the imposition of the death sentence was affirmed in Harrison v. State, 659 N.E.2d 480 Page 696 1995). The trial court's subsequent denial of Harrison's petition for post-conviction relief was affirmed on appeal in Harrison v......
  • Harrison v. McBride, No. 04-1398.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • October 27, 2005
    ...court complied with the remand, and the imposition of the death sentence was affirmed by the state supreme court. See Harrison v. State, 659 N.E.2d 480 (Ind.1995). The state trial court subsequently denied Mr. Harrison's petition for state post-conviction relief; the Supreme Court of Indian......
  • Harrison v. State, No. 65S00-9605-PD-318
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • February 9, 1999
    ...but remanded the case for a more specific sentencing order. The death sentences were affirmed after remand. Harrison v. State, 659 N.E.2d 480 (Ind.1995). Harrison then filed a petition for postconviction relief. After a four-day hearing, the trial court denied relief, and this appeal At the......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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