McCann v. State

Decision Date24 July 1984
Docket NumberNo. 1282S505,1282S505
Citation466 N.E.2d 421
PartiesSamuel C. McCANN, Appellant (Defendant Below), v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff Below).
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

Stephen R. Heimann, Columbus, for appellant.

Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen., Amy Schaeffer Good, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

PRENTICE, Justice.

Following a bench trial, Defendant (Appellant) was convicted of Murder, Ind.Code Sec. 35-42-1-1 (Burns 1979) and was sentenced to thirty (30) years imprisonment. His direct appeal presents one issue for our review: Whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain the conviction and whether he was denied his lawful presumption of innocence.

At the outset we note our standard of review upon a claim of insufficient evidence:

"Upon a review for sufficient evidence, this Court will look only to the evidence most favorable to the State and all reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom. If the existence of each element of the crime charged may be found therefrom, beyond a reasonable doubt, the verdict will not be disturbed. In such a review, we will not weigh conflicting evidence nor will we judge the credibility of the witnesses." (citations omitted).

Loyd v. State, (1980) 272 Ind. 404, 407, 398 N.E.2d 1260, 1264, cert. denied, 449 U.S. 881, 101 S.Ct. 231, 66 L.Ed.2d 105.

The Defendant admits shooting the victim but claims that the evidence disclosed that the shooting occurred either (1) in self-defense or (2) while under "sudden heat." With regard to his claim of self-defense, he argues that the State failed to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he was not acting in self-defense. When the evidence is sufficient to interject the issue of self-defense into the case, the prosecution does bear the burden of negating the defense beyond a reasonable doubt. Palmer v. State, (1981) Ind., 425 N.E.2d 640, 643; Loyd v. State, 272 Ind. at 406, 398 N.E.2d at 1264. It may do so by affirmatively rebutting defendant's evidence, if any, or by showing within its case-in-chief that the defendant was not acting in self-defense when the knowing and intentional killing occurred. Palmer v. State, 425 N.E.2d at 644; Southard v. State, (1981) Ind.App., 422 N.E.2d 325, 330. Under our standard of review if there is substantial evidence of probative value from which the trier of fact could conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that defendant did not act in self-defense, the verdict must stand. Palmer v. State, 425 N.E.2d at 643.

We hold that, in the case at bar, the evidence was sufficient to negate Defendant's claim of self-defense, inasmuch as there is substantial evidence of probative value consistent with a knowing murder committed by him in acts of agression and without fear for his own life or physical well being, as hereinafter detailed.

Defendant and the victim had become acquainted with each other in the fall of 1980 and had sporadically lived together in decedent's home in Columbus, Indiana. During that time, Defendant did not work and was frequently the recipient of money and gifts from her. At various times she bought, for his use, an automobile, a van, and a motorcycle. He was aware that she received a large social security check the first of each month. In May, 1981, Defendant married another woman and lived with her in Indianapolis; however, he continued to see the decedent occasionally. Following an incident in which decedent chased and repeatedly struck the motorcycle he was riding with her automobile, he did not see her for two or three months. In late October or early November, 1981, he returned to the victim's home to obtain some clothing which he had left there during the summer. He had been at her home for three or four (3 or 4) days when, on the morning of November 3, 1981, he and decedent drove to her bank where she cashed a check. They returned to her home where Defendant subsequently shot her twice in the head, attempted to clean the blood from the floor and his clothing, took approximately $600.00 in cash, wrapped her body in blankets, placed it in the trunk of his car, and drove to Indianapolis where he dumped the body at a golf course. He then went to Kentucky but returned to his wife's home on November 10, 1981 where police arrested him while he was in the process of transferring his license plate to another vehicle.

In his initial statement, Defendant denied any involvement in the killing and stated that the last time he had seen the victim she had been alive. Later he admitted shooting her, claiming that when he told the decedent that he was leaving her home she became angry and threw a bar stool at him. He was knocked to the floor and his gun fell out of a pocket. He claimed that both of them reached for the gun, that she threatened to kill him, that they struggled, and that the gun fired twice. He further claimed that he was in fear of death because he knew of the decedent's violent tendencies. Testimony revealed that the decedent had, on previous occasions, shot her daughter and attacked another woman with a tire iron. Moreover, Defendant testified that he recalled the incident when decedent rammed his motorcycle with her automobile.

The trier of fact had before it all of this testimony and was required to consider all of the evidence. It was then the trier of fact's duty to resolve the conflicts in the evidence, Palmer v. State, 425 N.E.2d at 643, and it was not compelled to believe the Defendant's version of the sequence of events which led to the killing. French v. State, (1980) Ind., 403 N.E.2d 821, 826; Harris v. State, (1978) 269 Ind. 672, 674, 382 N.E.2d 913, 915.

From the evidence presented, it was reasonable for the court to infer that the Defendant committed a knowing and intentional murder. Even though the evidence is circumstantial, the trier of fact may draw reasonable inferences from facts established by the evidence, and a guilty verdict may be based upon circumstantial evidence. Thompson v. State, (1982) Ind., 441 N.E.2d 192, 194; Zickefoose v. State, (1979) 270 Ind. 618, 621, 388 N.E.2d 507, 509. This Court need not find that the circumstantial evidence is adequate to overcome every reasonable hypothesis of innocence but...

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25 cases
  • Palmer v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • May 17, 1990
    ...640, and sudden heat is a mitigating factor--a defense. I.C. 35-42-1-3(b). Storey v. State (1990) Ind., 552 N.E.2d 477; McCann v. State (1984) Ind., 466 N.E.2d 421. Trial counsel testified that it was his strategy to have the jury consider voluntary manslaughter as an "option" in addition t......
  • Hobson v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • December 5, 1984
    ...any, or by showing within its case-in-chief that the defendant was not acting in self-defense when the crime occurred. McCann v. State, (1984) Ind., 466 N.E.2d 421, 422; Palmer v. State, (1981) Ind., 425 N.E.2d 640, 643-644. If substantial evidence of probative value exists from which the t......
  • Storey v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • April 12, 1990
    ...of "sudden heat" is determined by the trier of fact, and the defendant bears the burden of showing its existence. McCann v. State (1984), Ind., 466 N.E.2d 421. In the present case, the jury was presented with the defendant's version that he was acting under uncontrollable rage and anger aft......
  • Sarwacinski v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • January 7, 1991
    ...necessary to sustain his murder conviction; however, the crime of murder no longer embodies the element of malice. McCann v. State (1984), Ind., 466 N.E.2d 421, 424.1 Eisenhutt was described as approximately 6'1"' tall, 200 pounds, age 23. The autopsy revealed a blood alcohol content of .18......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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