Peterson v. State, No. 45S00-9103-DP-223

Docket NºNo. 45S00-9103-DP-223
Citation674 N.E.2d 528
Case DateDecember 13, 1996
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

Page 528

674 N.E.2d 528
Christopher D. PETERSON, Defendant-Appellant,
v.
STATE of Indiana, Plaintiff-Appellee.
No. 45S00-9103-DP-223.
Supreme Court of Indiana.
Dec. 13, 1996.

Page 531

James F. Stanton, Crown Point, for defendant-appellant.

Pamela Carter, Attorney General of Indiana, Arthur Thaddeus Perry, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, for plaintiff-appellee.

DICKSON, Justice.

Defendant-appellant Christopher D. Peterson was convicted of two counts of murder for the intentional killing of two brothers, Ilija (Eli) Balovski (Count I) and George Balovski (Count II), in their tailor shop in Gary, Indiana. The State sought the death sentence on grounds that, in addition to committing the murders of Balovski brothers, the defendant had been convicted [on March 16, 1992] in Porter Superior Court of the December 1990 murders of Marie Meitzler and Harchand Singh Dhaliwal. After finding the defendant guilty, the jury heard evidence during the penalty phase of the trial and recommended that the death penalty not be

Page 532

imposed. The trial court, finding that the aggravating circumstances overwhelmingly outweighed the mitigating circumstances, declined to follow the jury recommendation and imposed a sentence of death. We affirm.

On the afternoon of December 18, 1990, the Balovski brothers were each found dead inside the Eli Tailor Shop from shotgun wounds to the head. A sawed-off shotgun later recovered from the defendant's apartment was found to have fired a spent casing recovered at the crime scene. The defendant gave a statement to police admitting the shooting of the Balovski brothers, and he made incriminating admissions to an acquaintance.

The defendant presents numerous contentions grouped into three general issues: (1) whether a shotgun introduced into evidence was obtained by an unreasonable search and seizure and thus should have been suppressed; (2) whether the defendant's statements to police were properly admitted into evidence; and (3) whether the trial court erred in imposing the death penalty.

1. Search and Seizure

On the evening of January 28, 1991, a shooting occurred during an armed robbery of an individual at the Gainer Bank branch in Southlake Mall in Merrillville. A suspect, Antoine McGee, was questioned by police in connection with the mall bank shooting incident. McGee indicated he was not responsible for the shooting and implicated the defendant. Based on this information, the police proceeded to the defendant's mother's apartment to look for the defendant. The police received consent from the mother and searched the apartment attempting to find the defendant. While in the defendant's bedroom, the officers seized a sawed-off shotgun found in the closet.1 The trial court determined the defendant had standing to challenge the search, but found the evidence was admissible because the defendant's mother had the right to consent to the search of her adult son's room, her consent was voluntary, and the shotgun was in plain view.

The defendant contends these rulings are in error and violate both the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. In reviewing the trial court's ruling on the validity of a search, we consider the evidence favorable to the trial court's ruling and any uncontradicted substantial evidence to the contrary to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support the ruling. See Vance v. State, 620 N.E.2d 687, 691 (Ind.1993).

a. Federal Fourth Amendment

In addressing the defendant's claim of federal Fourth Amendment violations, we note that Fourth Amendment rights are personal and may not be vicariously asserted. Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 133-34, 99 S.Ct. 421, 425, 58 L.Ed.2d 387, 394 (1978). A defendant "aggrieved by an illegal search and seizure only through the introduction of damaging evidence secured by the search of a third person's premises has not had any of his Fourth Amendment rights infringed." Id. at 134, 99 S.Ct. at 425, 58 L.Ed.2d at 395. "[I]n order to challenge a search as unconstitutional, a defendant must have a legitimate expectation of privacy in that which is searched." Livingston v. State, 542 N.E.2d 192, 194 (Ind.1989) (citing Rakas v. Illinois ). In reviewing whether a privacy expectation exists under a Fourth Amendment analysis, this Court also looks to whether the defendant has control over or ownership in the premises searched. Lee v. State, 545 N.E.2d 1085, 1091 (Ind.1989); Livingston, 542 N.E.2d at 194; Stout v. State, 479 N.E.2d 563, 566 (Ind.1985). The burden is on the defendant challenging the constitutional validity of a search to demonstrate that he had a legitimate expectation in the premises searched. Livingston, 542 N.E.2d at 194.

In ruling that the search was valid, the trial court stated:

I find that the defendant does have--or did have standing to object to any unlawful search and seizure of the apartment.

Page 533

However that issue is moot because I find that the defendant's mother gave her voluntary consent to the search of that apartment and that that consent is binding on the defendant.

Supplemental Record at 1093. The defendant stresses that he had been living in and had property in the searched room. Brief of Appellant at 56.

However, there exists substantial uncontradicted evidence contrary to the trial court's ruling. While the defendant had previously lived in the room which was searched, at the time of the search, the defendant had no control or ownership in the premises searched. On the day before the search, his mother had informed him that he could not live at the residence any longer, helped him pack his belongings, and took him to his girlfriend's house to stay with the understanding that he was to turn himself in for being AWOL from the Marines. Consequently, the defendant was no longer living at the apartment and thus had no expectation of privacy. See Myers v. State, 454 N.E.2d 861, 864 (Ind.1983) ("[O]nce defendant's rental period had expired, he no longer had an expectation of privacy."). Even had the defendant continued to exhibit some control over the bedroom closet where the shotgun was found, such control was completely defined by, subordinate to, and dependent upon the will of his mother and her right to control the entire premises. Livingston, 542 N.E.2d at 194; see also Murrell v. State, 421 N.E.2d 638 (Ind.1981). The apartment was leased to his mother and sister. His mother paid the rent. His mother had the sole determination as to whether or not he could reside at the apartment. His mother testified that she "often" searched the bedroom--including the closet where the evidence was located--looking for drugs the defendant may have hidden. His mother also allowed other persons to reside in the apartment and, significantly, the defendant's sister sometimes shared the bedroom at night, further diminishing any expectation of privacy he may have had. See Humes v. State, 426 N.E.2d 379, 381 (Ind.1981). In addition, the defendant is hard-pressed to claim a privacy expectation in light of the fact that no fewer than six separate individuals had keys to the apartment2 and the defendant's friend, Antoine McGee, exercised access and control over the defendant's bedroom when the defendant was not at the apartment. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy under these circumstances.

Notwithstanding our deferential review of trial court rulings, the evidence does not support the conclusion that the defendant had standing to challenge the search of his mother's apartment. Moreover, the cursory treatment of the standing issue by the trial court and its characterization of standing as being "moot" implies that the trial court chose to deny the defendant's motion on the merits of the consent issue rather than on standing. Because we find that, as a matter of law, the defendant lacked standing to challenge the search, we reject his claim that the admission of the shotgun violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

b. Indiana Constitution

The defendant also claims the search violated his rights as guaranteed by Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. Separate and apart from the federal Fourth Amendment analysis, Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution provides an independent prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. Moran v. State, 644 N.E.2d 536, 540 (Ind.1994). Such challenges are analyzed under an independent "reasonableness" standard. Id. This case requires that we determine whether and to what extent there exists a prerequisite of standing to challenge violations of Article I, Section 11.

Prior Indiana cases based upon Section 11 rather than federal Fourth Amendment jurisprudence establish that the "right 'to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable search and seizure' [under Section 11] is a personal right of the individual whose person,

Page 534

house, papers or effects are searched or seized." Snedegar v. State, 196 Ind. 254, 257, 146 N.E. 849, 849-50 (1925). Indiana law has also imposed a requirement of standing to challenge a search or seizure--a defendant cannot successfully object to a search of the premises of another if such search does not unlawfully invade his own privacy. Tongut v. State, 197 Ind. 539, 544, 151 N.E. 427, 429 (1926). If the facts fail to establish that the alleged illegal search and seizure actually concerned the person, house, papers or effects of the defendant, he will not have standing to challenge the illegality. Earle v. State, 194 Ind. 165, 168, 142 N.E. 405, 406 (1924).

We note that the federal inquiry into standing under the Fourth Amendment focuses, in most part, on the defendant's privacy expectation in the premises searched. While cases interpreting our state constitutional provision have also placed significant focus on the premises searched, independent consideration is directed to the defendant's...

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  • Lowery v. Anderson, No. IP 96-71-C-H/G.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • July 6, 1999
    ...the facts in the record to so clearly point to the imposition of the death penalty that the jury's recommendation is unreasonable. 674 N.E.2d 528, 540 (Ind.1996) (emphasis in When Lowery's case was before the Supreme Court of Indiana on the Caldwell issue, the state court wrote: Neither the......
  • McIntosh v. Melroe Co., No. 71S03-9805-CV-297.
    • United States
    • May 26, 2000
    ...due process right to a fair trial.") (citing U.S. Const. amends. V, XIV; Ind. Const. art. I, §§ 12, 13). 3. See, e.g., Peterson v. State, 674 N.E.2d 528 (Ind.1996), and Brown v. State, 653 N.E.2d 77 (Ind.1995), dealing with differences in the search and seizure doctrines under due process i......
  • Turner v. Sheriff of Marion County, No. IP97-2013-C-F/D.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • March 1, 2000
    ...have charted an independent jurisprudence for Section Eleven. Baldwin v. Reagan, 715 N.E.2d 332, 337 (Ind.1999); Peterson v. State, 674 N.E.2d 528, 533 (Ind.1996), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 1078, 118 S.Ct. 858, 139 L.Ed.2d 757 (1998); Brown v. State, 653 N.E.2d 77, 79 (Ind.1995). While the req......
  • Stevens v. McBride, No. 4:03-CV-005 AS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • January 13, 2005
    ...than as sentencer does not violate Caldwell v. Mississippi, 472 U.S. 320, 105 S.Ct. 2633, 86 L.Ed.2d 231 (1985)); Peterson v. State, 674 N.E.2d 528, 541 (Ind.1996) (judicial override provision of death penalty statute does not deprive capital defendant of right to trial by jury); Miller v. ......
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114 cases
  • Lowery v. Anderson, No. IP 96-71-C-H/G.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • July 6, 1999
    ...the facts in the record to so clearly point to the imposition of the death penalty that the jury's recommendation is unreasonable. 674 N.E.2d 528, 540 (Ind.1996) (emphasis in When Lowery's case was before the Supreme Court of Indiana on the Caldwell issue, the state court wrote: Neither the......
  • McIntosh v. Melroe Co., No. 71S03-9805-CV-297.
    • United States
    • May 26, 2000
    ...due process right to a fair trial.") (citing U.S. Const. amends. V, XIV; Ind. Const. art. I, §§ 12, 13). 3. See, e.g., Peterson v. State, 674 N.E.2d 528 (Ind.1996), and Brown v. State, 653 N.E.2d 77 (Ind.1995), dealing with differences in the search and seizure doctrines under due process i......
  • Turner v. Sheriff of Marion County, No. IP97-2013-C-F/D.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • March 1, 2000
    ...have charted an independent jurisprudence for Section Eleven. Baldwin v. Reagan, 715 N.E.2d 332, 337 (Ind.1999); Peterson v. State, 674 N.E.2d 528, 533 (Ind.1996), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 1078, 118 S.Ct. 858, 139 L.Ed.2d 757 (1998); Brown v. State, 653 N.E.2d 77, 79 (Ind.1995). While the req......
  • Stevens v. McBride, No. 4:03-CV-005 AS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • January 13, 2005
    ...than as sentencer does not violate Caldwell v. Mississippi, 472 U.S. 320, 105 S.Ct. 2633, 86 L.Ed.2d 231 (1985)); Peterson v. State, 674 N.E.2d 528, 541 (Ind.1996) (judicial override provision of death penalty statute does not deprive capital defendant of right to trial by jury); Miller v. ......
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