James v. State, No. 180S7

Docket NºNo. 180S7
Citation411 N.E.2d 618, 274 Ind. 304
Case DateOctober 28, 1980
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

Page 618

411 N.E.2d 618
274 Ind. 304
Frank Bernard JAMES, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee.
No. 180S7.
Supreme Court of Indiana.
Oct. 28, 1980.

Page 619

James E. Daugherty, Merrillville, for appellant.

Theo. L. Sendak, Atty. Gen., Janis L. Summers, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

PIVARNIK, Justice.

Appellant, Frank Bernard James, was charged with having[274 Ind. 305] committed Murder, Murder in the Perpetration of a Robbery, and Murder in the Perpetration of a Kidnapping, Ind.Code § 35-42-1-1 (1978 Supp.). He was convicted of each of the offenses after trial by jury. The trial court sentenced the defendant to sixty years on each of the three offenses, which sentences were to run concurrently. We note at the outset of our consideration of this appeal that this cause involves the homicide of one individual. Therefore, the trial court could not impose sentence on three counts of murder. Pointon v. State, (1980) Ind., 408 N.E.2d 1255; Franks v. State, (1975) 262 Ind. 649, 323 N.E.2d 221. We remand this cause with instructions to vacate the judgments and sentences for Murder under Count II, Murder in the Perpetration of a Robbery, and Murder under Count III, Murder in the Perpetration of a Kidnapping.

Appellant raises four issues in his appeal, which involve the admission of exhibits, the refusal to allow testimony of a prospective witness, the allowing of rebuttal testimony, and the sufficiency of the evidence.

On Labor Day, September 4, 1978, Leon Strenski loaded his personal belongings into a company car recently assigned to him and left his parents' home in Chicago about 2:30

Page 620

p. m., to drive to Indianapolis to begin a new job. His girlfriend helped him to load the car. He took various items including a guitar, a cassette recorder, a watch, a camera and clothing. The car was a two-door 1978 dark blue Mercury. Leon Strenski was wearing a long sleeved white shirt, tan Levi pants, and a belt with a distinctive buckle.

On September 4, appellant James was at the Hub Lounge. He, Arthur Samuels, Leroy Brundige and Sally Koto drove to Chicago and purchased drugs. Frank James lost his wallet out of the car window and they stopped the car. James left the car to find his wallet and Sally Koto, who was driving, left the appellant on the expressway and returned to East Chicago.

Leon Strenski picked up Frank James, who was hitchhiking, in Lake County. Later Frank James picked up Marvin Austin between 3:00 and 5:00 p. m. at Austin's house. He asked Austin if he wanted to ride around and get high. Austin agreed to go with him and got into the dark blue 1978 car, which James said was his brother's car. Austin saw a brown suitcase, a guitar, a tape player, a blue jean jacket, a radio, and a suit, [274 Ind. 306] in the car. Austin told James he knew where James could sell the stuff. They drove to the Small Farms area of Gary. James said he heard a noise from the trunk. He said, "White boy, you better be cool back there." Austin asked James why he didn't let the guy go because he was nice enough to give him a ride, and James said "the man had seen his face." James stopped the car, got out carrying a carbine, and opened the trunk. Austin laid down in the seat because he did not want to be seen. After a couple of minutes he heard two or three shots. James returned to the car, stating that "the man was dead."

I.

Appellant alleges that the trial court erred in allowing State's Exhibits Nos. 2 and 3 to be admitted into evidence. These exhibits were photographs taken at 3112 Wright Street, Gary, Indiana, on September 10, 1978, and depict the body of the victim Leon Strenski. Appellant claims that these photographs were gruesome and that they prejudiced him. He also claims that they were not relevant.

These photographs show the location and condition of the body when it was found. State's witness Willie Hearns, a deputy coroner, described the body as decomposed, and testified as to the location and time of discovery. Captain Phil Wleklinski also described the appearance of the body as being in a state of decomposition. He testified that maggots were over the head area and that the clothing was saturated with body fluids. There was testimony from Dr. Custodio, who performed the autopsy, that the body was in an advanced stage of decomposition and maggot infestation. He had difficulty determining race and finally did so through the use of hair samples. He discussed the difficulty of determining the cause of death due to the state of the body and described a fracture of the skull in which he found metallic fragments which appeared to be fragments of bullets. His conclusion was that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head which lacerated the brain.

It is well-settled that the admission of photographs over objections on these grounds is within the sound discretion of the trial court if they qualify under general rules of evidence and will not be disturbed unless the trial court abused its discretion. Here...

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29 practice notes
  • Moore ex rel. Bell v. Hamilton Se. Sch. Dist., No. 1:11-cv-01548-SEB-DML
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • August 29, 2013
    ...injury of a child at recess cannot be attributed to a school's breach of duty, absent other evidence of inattention, see Norman, 411 N.E.2d at 618 ("Even perfect attention to this incident might not have prevented it. . . . To hold the school personnel liable under the set of facts presente......
  • Tun ex rel. Tun v. Fort Wayne Community Schools, No. 1:03CV217.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • July 22, 2004
    ...that a duty arose on any of the teachers or all of them to pay particular attention to a particular student who was running." Norman, 411 N.E.2d at 618. Moreover, as the Indiana Supreme Court observed, "[e]ven perfect attention to this incident might not have prevented it. To hold the schoo......
  • Taliaferro v. State, No. 101
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • February 10, 1983
    ...396 A.2d 997 (D.C.1979); Lewis v. State, 411 So.2d 880 (Fla.App.1981); State v. Davis, 63 Haw. 191, 624 P.2d 376 (1981); James v. State, 411 N.E.2d 618 (Ind.1980); People v. Robinson, 104 Ill.App.3d 20, 59 Ill.Dec. 756, 432 N.E.2d 340 (1982); People v. Braxton, 81 Ill.App.3d 808, 36 Ill.Dec......
  • Wireman v. State, No. 382S118
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • March 26, 1982
    ...the evidence favorable only to the Page 1347 State. Kimmel v. State, (1981) Ind., 418 N.E.2d 1152, 1158; James v. State, (1980) Ind., 411 N.E.2d 618, 622. The evidence shows that the clerk was Republican and the Democratic commissioner kept the key to the jury box. He never opened the box u......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
29 cases
  • Moore ex rel. Bell v. Hamilton Se. Sch. Dist., No. 1:11-cv-01548-SEB-DML
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • August 29, 2013
    ...injury of a child at recess cannot be attributed to a school's breach of duty, absent other evidence of inattention, see Norman, 411 N.E.2d at 618 ("Even perfect attention to this incident might not have prevented it. . . . To hold the school personnel liable under the set of facts presente......
  • Tun ex rel. Tun v. Fort Wayne Community Schools, No. 1:03CV217.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • July 22, 2004
    ...that a duty arose on any of the teachers or all of them to pay particular attention to a particular student who was running." Norman, 411 N.E.2d at 618. Moreover, as the Indiana Supreme Court observed, "[e]ven perfect attention to this incident might not have prevented it. To hold the schoo......
  • Taliaferro v. State, No. 101
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • February 10, 1983
    ...396 A.2d 997 (D.C.1979); Lewis v. State, 411 So.2d 880 (Fla.App.1981); State v. Davis, 63 Haw. 191, 624 P.2d 376 (1981); James v. State, 411 N.E.2d 618 (Ind.1980); People v. Robinson, 104 Ill.App.3d 20, 59 Ill.Dec. 756, 432 N.E.2d 340 (1982); People v. Braxton, 81 Ill.App.3d 808, 36 Ill.Dec......
  • Wireman v. State, No. 382S118
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • March 26, 1982
    ...the evidence favorable only to the Page 1347 State. Kimmel v. State, (1981) Ind., 418 N.E.2d 1152, 1158; James v. State, (1980) Ind., 411 N.E.2d 618, 622. The evidence shows that the clerk was Republican and the Democratic commissioner kept the key to the jury box. He never opened the box u......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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