Myers v. State, No. 55A05-0703-CR-148.

Docket NºNo. 55A05-0703-CR-148.
Citation887 N.E.2d 170
Case DateMay 30, 2008
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana
887 N.E.2d 170
John R. MYERS II, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
No. 55A05-0703-CR-148.
Court of Appeals of Indiana.
May 30, 2008.

[887 N.E.2d 175]

Patrick V. Baker, Hugh G. Baker, Jr., Baker, Pittman & Page, Timothy E. Peterson, Indianapolis, IN, Attorneys for Appellant.

Steve Carter, Attorney General of Indiana, Joby D. Jerrells, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, IN, Attorneys for Appellee.

OPINION

BRADFORD, Judge.


Today we state once again that a defendant is entitled to a fair trial, not a perfect trial. Concluding the imperfections in the murder trial of John Myers II did not deprive him of a fair trial, we affirm.

Myers appeals his conviction, following a jury trial, for Murder, a felony,1 for which the trial court sentenced him to sixty-five years in the Department of Correction. Upon appeal, Myers challenges his conviction on the following grounds, including alleged errors by the trial court:

(i) by denying his motion for change of venue;

(ii) by denying his motions in limine seeking to exclude testimony of two witnesses;

(iii) by admitting expert testimony regarding the uncharged crime of rape;

(iv) by admitting his taped interrogation without a proper admonition to the jury;

(v) by excluding an FBI report; and

887 N.E.2d 176

(vi) by denying his motions for a mistrial on the basis of

(a) an alleged violation of the separation-of-witnesses order,

(b) an allegedly improper reference to a polygraph examination,

(c) an allegedly improper statement of his guilt, and

(d) alleged jury misconduct;

(vii) that the above alleged errors constitute cumulative error; and

(viii) that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding of guilt.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
I. Facts

During the course of a twelve-day jury trial, evidence of the following was presented. In the spring of 2000, John Myers II lived approximately seven tenths of a mile from the intersection of North Maple Grove Road and West Maple Grove Road, at 1465 West Maple Grove Road, north of Bloomington in Monroe County. Myers was on vacation from work the week of May 29 through June 2.

On the morning of May 31, 2000, Jill Behrman, an accomplished bicyclist who had just completed her freshman year at Indiana University, left her Bloomington home to take a bicycle ride. She logged off of her home computer at 9:32 a.m. Behrman did not report to the Student Recreational Sports Center, where she was scheduled to work from noon to 3:00 p.m. that day, nor did she appear at a postwork lunch scheduled with her father and grandparents. Following nationwide search efforts, Behrman's remains were ultimately discovered on March 9, 2003, in a wooded area near the intersection of Warthen and Duckworth Roads in Morgan County. The cause of her death was ruled to be a contact shotgun wound to the back of the head.

With respect to the events surrounding Behrman's disappearance, one report indicated that a young woman matching Behrman's description was seen riding her bicycle north of Bloomington on North Maple Grove Road at approximately 10:00 a.m. the morning of May 31.2 A tracking dog later corroborated this report. While another report placed Behrman south of Bloomington at 4700 Harrell Road at approximately 9:38 a.m., some authorities later discounted this report due to her log-off time of 9:32 a.m. and the minimum fourteen minutes it would take to bicycle to Harrell Road. The tracking dog did not detect Behrman's scent trail south of Bloomington.

At approximately 8:30 a.m. on the morning of May 31, 2000, in the North Maple Grove Road area, a witness saw a white "commercial looking" Ford van without identification on its doors or sides drive slowly past his driveway on North Maple Grove Road, heading south. Tr. p. 1257. Two men were inside the van. This witness saw the van two additional times that morning by approximately 9:00 a.m. and later identified the van as "exactly like" a Bloomington Hospital van.3

At some point before noon on May 31, 2000, another witness saw a bicycle later determined to be Behrman's lying off of the east side of North Maple Grove Road

887 N.E.2d 177

near the intersection of North Maple Grove Road and West Maple Grove Road. The location of the bicycle was approximately one mile from Myers's residence and ten and one-half miles from Behrman's house.

On May 31, the date of Behrman's disappearance, two witnesses separately noted that the windows in Myers's trailer were covered, which was unusual. One of these witnesses also observed that Myers's car was parked fifty yards from its normal location and remained out of sight from the road for approximately three days. Myers told this witness that he had parked his car in that secluded spot because he did not want anyone to know he was home.

Myers's account of his activities during his vacation week of May 29 through June 2 was reportedly that he was "here and there." Tr. p. 1494. Myers's employer at the time was the Bloomington Hospital warehouse, where he had access to two white panel Ford vans. Besides being "here and there," Myers indicated that he had been mostly at home, that he had gone to a gas station, and that he had gone to Kentucky Kingdom but found it was closed.4 Myers additionally stated that he and his girlfriend, Carly Goodman, had cancelled their plans to go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and to Kings Island, Ohio, that week. Phone calls made from Myers's trailer on May 31 were at the following times: 9:15 a.m.; 9:17 a.m.; 9:18 a.m.; 10:37 a.m.; 10:45 a.m.; and 6:48 p.m. Myers's mother, Jodie Myers, testified that she had made those calls. The calls were to drive-in theaters and various state parks.

Myers was reportedly almost hysterical on May 31 and spoke of leaving town and never coming back. Myers's aunt, Debbie Bell, observed that Myers had been very depressed in the preceding month and believed that this was due to problems with his girlfriend. In late April 2000, Myers had called Bell because he had been having problems with his girlfriend and felt like "a balloon full of hot air about to burst." Tr. p. 1770.

Carly Goodman was Myers's girlfriend beginning in approximately late October 1999. In March of 2000, Myers took Goodman for a long drive through Gosport, "over a bridge where there was a creek and into some woods." Tr. p. 1893. Myers pulled his car into a clearing in the woods where the two of them argued, which scared Goodman. Although it was nighttime, Goodman observed the appearance of this clearing from the car's headlights. In late April or early May of 2000, Goodman broke off her relationship with Myers. Goodman denied that she and Myers had ever made plans to go to Myrtle Beach or to Kings Island the week of May 29.

On June 5, 2000, Bell again spoke with Myers. Myers mentioned that a girl had been abducted in the area, and he was afraid he would be blamed for it. Myers further stated that the girl's bicycle had been found about a mile from his house and that "they blame [him] for everything." Tr. p. 1788. Myers additionally asserted, "[T]hey haven't found her body yet" and guessed that the girl was dead. Tr. p. 1789. In that same conversation, Myers indicated that he had been stopped

887 N.E.2d 178

by a roadblock and was "scared" of roadblocks, but he later changed his mind, laughed, and said he was not really "scared." Tr. p. 1789.

Following a tip due to this conversation, on June 27, 2000, Detective Rick Crussen of the Bloomington Police Department interviewed Jodie and Myers's father, John Myers Sr., at their residence at 3909 West Delap Road. The following day, Detective Crussen interviewed Myers.

On June 27, 2000, immediately after Detective Crussen interviewed Myers's parents and the day before he interviewed Myers, Myers called his grandmother, Betty Swaffard, and asked to borrow $200. Myers told Swaffard he was unable to come to her house for the money because there were roadblocks on Maple Grove Road, and he did not want to leave his home. Myers additionally stated that he was a suspect in the Jill Behrman disappearance. Myers did not come to Swaffard's home for the money.

In July 2000, Bell noticed that John Myers Sr. was unusually nervous and agitated when in Myers's presence. Sometime in approximately August of 2000, Myers's brother, Samuel, who owned a twelve-gauge shotgun and had stored it at his parents' house on Delap Road since approximately 1997, noted that the gun was missing.

Myers raised the topic of Behrman's disappearance multiple times and in multiple contexts following her disappearance. Before Detective Crussen interviewed him, Myers falsely stated to his Bloomington Hospital supervisor that police had questioned him in connection with Behrman's disappearance because her bicycle was found close to his home. Also in June of 2000, Myers stated to a co-worker that he wondered whether authorities had investigated a barn in a field located on Bottom Road off of Maple Grove Road. Additionally, some weeks after Behrman disappeared, Myers told another co-worker during a delivery run that Behrman's bicycle was found in his neighborhood, and that Behrman was probably abducted near that site. Later in 2000 or 2001, while driving with his then-girlfriend, Kanya Bailey, Myers directed Bailey's attention to a location a short distance from his mother's residence and stated he had found Behrman's bicycle there.

In the late spring to late summer of 2001, Myers again raised the topic of Behrman's disappearance with another co-worker. As the two were driving on Bottom and Maple Grove Roads, Myers pointed out where he lived and stated that Behrman's bicycle had been found close to where he used to live. A short time later, while on Maple Grove Road, Myers stated that if he was ever going to hide a body he would hide it in a wooded area up "this way," pointing north. On another occasion, Myers stated to this co-worker that he knew of someone in Florida who had...

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38 practice notes
  • Myers v. Superintendent, Ind. State Prison, No. 1:16-cv-02023-JRS-DML
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • September 30, 2019
    ...from where Behrman's remains were discovered, as the place that Myers had driven her in March 2000.410 F.Supp.3d 969 Myers v. State , 887 N.E.2d 170, 176-80 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008) [ (" Myers I ") ](footnotes and citations to the record omitted), trans. denied . Myers v. State , 33 N.E.3d 1077......
  • Myers v. State, No. 55A05–1312–PC–608.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • May 28, 2015
    ...to forty yards from where Behrman's remains were discovered, as the place that Myers had driven her in March 2000.Myers v. State, 887 N.E.2d 170, 176–80 (Ind.Ct.App.2008) (footnotes and citations to the record omitted), trans. denied. A grand jury indicted Myers for Behrman's murder in Apri......
  • Strack v. State, Court of Appeals Case No. 21A-CR-922
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • November 29, 2021
    ...reversal. Though Strack cites no authority for this position, his argument finds some legitimacy in our precedents. See Myers v. State , 887 N.E.2d 170, 196 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008) (citing Hubbell v. State , 754 N.E.2d 884, 895 (Ind. 2001) ) ("The Indiana Supreme Court has provided for the pos......
  • Strack v. State, 21A-CR-922
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • November 29, 2021
    ...reversal. Though Strack cites no authority for this position, his argument finds some legitimacy in our precedents. See Myers v. State, 887 N.E.2d 170, 196 (Ind.Ct.App. 2008) (citing Hubbell v. State, 754 N.E.2d 884, 895 (Ind. 2001)) ("The Indiana Supreme Court has provided for the possibil......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
38 cases
  • Myers v. Superintendent, Ind. State Prison, No. 1:16-cv-02023-JRS-DML
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • September 30, 2019
    ...from where Behrman's remains were discovered, as the place that Myers had driven her in March 2000.410 F.Supp.3d 969 Myers v. State , 887 N.E.2d 170, 176-80 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008) [ (" Myers I ") ](footnotes and citations to the record omitted), trans. denied . Myers v. State , 33 N.E.3d 1077......
  • Myers v. State, No. 55A05–1312–PC–608.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • May 28, 2015
    ...to forty yards from where Behrman's remains were discovered, as the place that Myers had driven her in March 2000.Myers v. State, 887 N.E.2d 170, 176–80 (Ind.Ct.App.2008) (footnotes and citations to the record omitted), trans. denied. A grand jury indicted Myers for Behrman's murder in Apri......
  • Strack v. State, Court of Appeals Case No. 21A-CR-922
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • November 29, 2021
    ...reversal. Though Strack cites no authority for this position, his argument finds some legitimacy in our precedents. See Myers v. State , 887 N.E.2d 170, 196 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008) (citing Hubbell v. State , 754 N.E.2d 884, 895 (Ind. 2001) ) ("The Indiana Supreme Court has provided for the pos......
  • Strack v. State, 21A-CR-922
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • November 29, 2021
    ...reversal. Though Strack cites no authority for this position, his argument finds some legitimacy in our precedents. See Myers v. State, 887 N.E.2d 170, 196 (Ind.Ct.App. 2008) (citing Hubbell v. State, 754 N.E.2d 884, 895 (Ind. 2001)) ("The Indiana Supreme Court has provided for the possibil......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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