Meredith v. State

Decision Date04 March 1966
Docket NumberNo. 30660,30660
Citation247 Ind. 233,214 N.E.2d 385
PartiesAlmon MEREDITH, Appellant, v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee.
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

Robert J. Fink, of Haymaker, Bridwell & Fink, Indianapolis, for appellant.

John J. Dillon, Atty. Gen., James Manahan, Deputy Atty. Gen., for appellee.


The appellant was convicted in the Marion County Criminal Court, Division I on February 11, 1964 of the crime of second degree murder. Appellant assigns as error to overruling of a motion for a new trial and in appellant's brief states that he relies upon the introduction in evidence over his objections of exhibits 3, 4, 5 and 6 on the ground that they were 'irrelevant, immaterial and did not tend to prove any of the issues of the crime charged.' The brief does not identify these exhibits except by reference to a transcript page. It would have been helpful to have briefly described of what the exhibits consisted. We find, however, upon examination of the transcript and the testimony related thereto that the exhibits consist of four photographs. Two are pictures of a 1951 Buick automobile which had been wrecked following a pursuit by police officers, in which the appellant was riding at the time of an attempted escape. Another is a picture of appellant Meredith lying on the ground in a pool of blood as he was shot in an attempt to escape, and finally a picture of the automobile with the door open, showing what appears to be blood on the front seat and a revolver lying on the floor.

Error is further claimed, as stated in the brief, because of the introduction of testimony of police officers Graham and Stratton, 'their testimony not being connected to the crime charged and being irrelevant.' This is specification 28 of the motion for a new trial. It is a specification of error claimed in overruling defendant's motion to strike out 'the testimony of the last four or five witnesses as not being relevant.' Without belaboring the point, we state that this is not the proper way for trial counsel to save for review a question as to the admission of evidence in the trial. It is too indefinite and confusing. Schweigel v. State (1964), 245 Ind. 6, 195 N.E.2d 848.

From the brief written by subsequent counsel on appeal we draw the conclusion that the evidence complained of was that relating to the arrest and apprehension by these officers of the appellant on the crime of murder. Since the general tenor of appellant's brief is that this evidence and that of the pictures introduced as exhibits were not relevant and material in the trial of the appellant on the murder charge, we have given that issue consideration.

The evidence in this case shows that shortly prior to the apprehension and arrest of the appellant, from which these pictures result, the appellant had shot and killed the decedent, William Robert Bray, following a drinking party. One of the witnesses present called the police, describing the car which the appellant used in leaving the scene of the homicide. Shortly thereafter an Indianapolis police officer in a patrol car saw the automobile in which the appellant and a companion were riding, and directed them to pull over to the curb. After asking their names, the police officer arrested the appellant and the driver of the car. The appellant got out of the car and fired three shots at the police officer, critically wounding him. The appellant then jumped into the car and sped away down the street. Another police patrol wagon pursued, forcing the car in which the appellant was riding to crash into a fire plug. One exhibit objected to by the appellant was a picture of this car which crashed in the pursuit following appellant's attempted escape. In this car was found the revolver which was identified by laboratory tests as being the revolver which fired the bullet which killed William Robert Bray, the decedent. Another one of the exhibits to which objection is made was a picture of this revolver lying on the floor of the escape car. Another exhibit is a picture of the appellant after he was shot or injured following the crash of the fleeing car.

Evidence of escape or attempted escape and avoidance of arrest or capture is always competent evidence of the consciousness of guilt and a matter for the consideration of the jury. A statement in Underhill, Criminal Evidence, p. 213 (2d ed. 1910) is quoted with approval by this Court in Smith v. State (1961), 241 Ind. 665, 668, 175 N.E.2d 27, 29:

"Any statement or conduct of a person indicating a consciousness of guilt, where at the time or thereafter he is charged with or suspected of the crime, is admissible as a circumstances against him on trial. Evidence of circumstances, which are part of a person's behaviour subsequent to an event with which it is alleged or suspected he is connected with or implicated in, are [sic] is relevant if the circumstances are such as would be natural and usual, assuming the connection or implication to exist. Underhill, Criminal Evidence (2 Ed.) 213."

In Anderson et al. v. The State (1897), 147 Ind. 445, 46 N.E. 901 we find a statement therein by this Court which appears to cover the situation now before us in detail. The Court said at p. 452, 46 N.E. at p. 902:

'In the evidence given as to the resistance made to the Bremen officers who attempted to arrest the appellants and their companions, mention is made of a revolver used by one of them, and with which an effort was made by him to kill one of the officers; and counsel complain because this revolver was brought into court, and identified. That those accused of the crime charged should have resisted arrest, that they attacked and endangered the lives of the officers, and that three of them escaped, were circumstances proper to be brought to the knowledge of the jury, not for the purpose of showing that they were guilty of the additional crime of assaulting the officers of resisting arrest, but for the purpose of determining whether such conduct was or was not an indication of the guilt of the crime charged; and the court particularly instructed the jury as to the force and effect of such evidence. The production of the revolver was a proper incident to the giving of this evidence.' See also: 26 Am.Jur., Homicide, Sec. 360, p. 404; Annot., 25 A.L.R. 886, 897 (1923); Fletcher v. State (1949), 227 Ind. 687, 88 N.E.2d 146; State v. Torphy (1940), 217 Ind. 383, 28 N.E.2d 70; Porter v. The State (1850), 2 Ind. 435; Martin v. State (1957), 236 Ind. 524, 141 N.E.2d 107.

The magnitude and extremes to which a defendant goes in attempting to escape are certainly competent for the jury's consideration. The fact that appellant was willing to commit the capital crime of killing a police officer rather than submit to arrest is a matter relevant to a guilty conscience. The gun which was used not only in an attempt to escape but to kill the decedent, with whose death the appellant was charged, has the utmost relevancy to the issue. A picture of the car used to escape has relevancy and a picture of the appellant showing the violence with which he resisted arrest and the extremes to which officers had to go to apprehend him, are certainly competent evidence. If a verbal description may be given by a witness of...

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32 cases
  • Spinks v. McBride
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Indiana
    • June 29, 1994
    ...this is not a sufficient basis for excluding such evidence. Sotelo v. State (1976), 264 Ind. 298, 342 N.E.2d 844; Meredith v. State (1966) 247 Ind. 233, 214 N.E.2d 385." Wilson v. State (1978), 268 Ind. 112, 374 N.E.2d 45. The photograph served to clarify testimony concerning the cause of d......
  • Tichnell v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • June 10, 1980
    ...Peltier, 585 F.2d 314, 322-25 (8th Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 440 U.S. 945, 99 S.Ct. 1422, 59 L.Ed.2d 634 (1979); Meredith v. State, 247 Ind. 233, 214 N.E.2d 385, 386-87 (1966); State v. Davies, 350 So.2d 586, 588-89 (La.1977); Commonwealth v. Gilday, 367 Mass. 474, 327 N.E.2d 851, 864 (1975......
  • Fleenor v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • October 13, 1987
    ...this is not a sufficient basis for excluding such evidence. Sotelo v. State (1976), 264 Ind. 298, 342 N.E.2d 844; Meredith v. State (1966), 247 Ind. 233, 214 N.E.2d 385." Wilson v. State (1978), 268 Ind. 112, 374 N.E.2d 45, The photographs were relevant because they were illustrative of ver......
  • Short v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • December 27, 1982
    ...arrest is relevant and admissible as circumstantial evidence of guilt. Porter v. State, (1979) Ind., 391 N.E.2d 801; Meredith v. State, (1966) 247 Ind. 233, 214 N.E.2d 385. There was no error in permitting the testimony of the Appellant claims the trial court erred in admitting hearsay evid......
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