Musick v. State

Decision Date23 August 1976
Docket NumberNo. 975S209,975S209
Citation352 N.E.2d 717,265 Ind. 207
PartiesLawrence E. MUSICK, Appellant, v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee.
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

David W. Foley, Mullin, Foley & Gilroy, Indianapolis, for appellant.

Theodore L. Sendak, Atty. Gen., James N. Shumacker, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

DeBRULER, Justice.

Appellant was charged in a single count indictment with first degree murder. Ind. Coee § 35--13--4--1 (Burns 1975). He was tried by jury before the Honorable Andrew Jacobs, Sr., Special Judge 1, found guilty as charged, and received a sentence of life imprisonment.

Appellant was convicted of murdering his former wife Sharon Musick. Mrs. Musick was shot and killed in the parking lot of a suburban shopping center before a half dozen witnesses, at least five of whom identified appellant at trial as her assailant.

On appeal, appellant first claims that the trial court erred in admitting State's Exhibit No. 9 into evidence. This Exhibit was a 16 gauge single shot shotgun. When offered, defense counsel made the following objection:

'I object to it being introduced into evidence on the basis that there has been no link for purposes of this offense to offer that gun into evidence for establishing an element to this crime because there has never been a link shown in evidence between that gun and this Defendant and the scene of the crime.'

On appeal, appellant contends that this exhibit was inadmissible because it was not shown 'connected to the defendant at the alleged scene of the murder.' Appellant takes the position that under this Court's ruling in Siberry v. State, (1893) 133 Ind. 677, 33 N.E. 681, an alleged murder weapon cannot be admitted into evidence until such weapon is identified by sufficient evidence. As a starting point in dealing with this issue, it cannot be doubted that a weapon with which the mortal wound was inflicted is relevant evidence in a first degree murder case in which the charge is murder by shooting. In dealing with the issue of relevance in Pirtle v. State, (1975) Ind., 323 N.E.2d 634, 643, we quoted authority on the subject:

'(T)he most acceptable test of relevance is the question, does the evidence offered render the desired inference more probable than it would be without the evidence?' McCormick, Evidence § 185 at 437. In Indiana 'evidence tending to prove a material fact is admissible, even though its tendency in that direction may be exceedingly slight.' Thomas v. State (1968) 251 Ind. 76, 80, 238 N.E.2d 20, 22.'

A gun, once shown to be the murder weapon, would be highly relevant to show purpose and malice, that the victim died as a result of gunshot wounds, and would, if sufficiently connected to the accused, serve to identify the accused as the perpetrator of the homicide.

The record is replete with evidence tending to support the inference that the victim was shot with State's Exhibit No. 9 and that appellant had it in his possession at the scene and at the time of the shooting.

The testimony of the eyewitnesses to the shooting served to identify appellant as having shot his wife with a 16 or 12 gauge single shot shotgun, break-down type. Exhibit No. 9 is a 16 gauge gun and meets this description. The testimony of Mr. and Mrs. Frazier established that Exhibit No. 9 belonged to them and that they loaned it along with a box of shells to appellant two days before the shooting. Within an hour or so after the time of the shooting, appellant returned the exhibit to Mr. and Mrs. Frazier and on that occasion responded to an inquiry by Mr. Frazier about how the gun handled by stating that the gun kicked a little. The testimony of appellant's friend, Martha Kanouse, at whose residence he was arrested shortly after the shooting was that the gun which they had had and which had just been returned to the Fraziers had been kept in the trunk of her car. Eyewitnesses at the scene had identified this car by color, make and license number as having been driven by appellant at the time and scene of the crime. Officer Larkins testified that he found two spent shotgun shells at the scene having the same gauge as that of Exhibit No. 9. While such evidence is circumstantial, it sufficiently identifies State's Exhibit No. 9 as the murder weapon. The trial court correctly overruled appellant's objection and admitted Exhibit No. 9.

Appellant next claims that the trial court erred in not directing a verdict of acquittal at the end of the State's case upon the ground that the State failed to present evidence of premeditation. From the body of appellant's argument in the brief, we take it that appellant is arguing that the evidence of the element of premeditation was insufficient to support the jury's verdict. In addition to the evidence already recited, that appellant borrowed a shotgun and drove to the shopping center where he intercepted his wife and shot her twice with that gun, a friend with whom the victim was living testified at trial that appellant had told the friend on August 1st, prior to the shooting on August 3rd, that his wife was 'as good as dead.' From this statement and the other circumstances related the jury was warranted in concluding beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant formed a design to kill his wife, deliberated on it, and then carried it out. The evidence of premeditation was sufficient.

Appellant's last claim is that the trial court overstepped the bounds of his duty as a judge in...

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11 cases
  • Bruce v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • 19 Abril 1978
    ...any improper undignified or idiosyncratic behavior which would have served to threaten the fairness of the proceedings. Musick v. State, (1976) Ind., 352 N.E.2d 717, 720. III. Appellant next challenges both the timeliness and adequacy of the State's responses to his alibi Appellant filed hi......
  • Candler v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • 24 Junio 1977
    ...N.E.2d 51. Any evidence having even a slight tendency to prove a material fact is sufficiently relevant to be admitted. Musick v. State (1976) Ind., 352 N.E.2d 717, 719; Pirtle v. State, (1975) 263 Ind. 16, 34, 323 N.E.2d 634, 643. The shotgun shell found at the tavern tends to prove that a......
  • Tyson v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • 19 Marzo 1979
    ...conducted the direct examination of the doctors who were then passed to both parties for cross examination. See Musick v. State, (1976) 265 Ind. 207, 211, 352 N.E.2d 717, 720 (approving this manner of The State maintains that the trial judge, by informing the jury that the doctors were appo......
  • Atkinson v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • 18 Julio 1979
    ...conduct the direct examination of the court-appointed psychiatrists and the parties may cross-examine such witnesses. Musick v. State, (1976) 265 Ind. 207, 352 N.E.2d 717. Here, the trial court conducted the direct examination of the two psychiatrists who were then cross-examined extensivel......
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