Pointon v. State, 676S182

CourtSupreme Court of Indiana
Citation372 N.E.2d 1159,267 Ind. 624
Docket NumberNo. 676S182,676S182
PartiesJoseph B. POINTON, Jr., Appellant, v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee.
Decision Date21 February 1978

J. Patrick Smith, Phyliss A. Benn, LaPorte, for appellant.

Theodore L. Sendak, Atty. Gen., David T. O'Malia, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

GIVAN, Chief Justice.

Appellant was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to an indeterminate term of 15 to 25 years. The record discloses that the body of Darlene Lausman was found lying on the edge of a cornfield. She had been stabbed approximately 69 times. Investigators discovered tire marks near the body. Subsequent investigation revealed that the appellant had left a tavern with the victim on the night of the crime. The next morning the police went to the appellant's home where they discovered a 1968 Buick Electra. The tread of the tires on this car was similar in pattern to the tracks found at the scene of the crime. Appellant was arrested, was read his Miranda rights and was asked if he would consent to a search of his automobile. Appellant indicated that he would permit the search. The officers then read him the consent-to-search form, including a statement that appellant had a Fourth Amendment right not to have his possessions searched without a warrant. Appellant then read the consent form to himself and signed it. He handed the officers the keys to his car without any mention by the police that the investigation involved a homicide, and stated, "The knife, her clothes and her purse are in the trunk." Upon finding these items appellant was arrested and charged with murder in the first degree.

At trial appellant stated that he had been working two jobs at a total of 96 hours per week and that he frequently imbibed a few beers after work. He testified that on the night in question he had been barhopping and had met the victim during that period. He left with the victim, drove to a rural area and had intercourse with the victim. She then told appellant that she wanted some money or she would tell his wife of their relationship. In the ensuing argument appellant pulled his pocket knife and attacked the victim.

Appellant first claims the trial court erred in admitting a videotaped statement obtained from him by the LaPorte police during questioning shortly after his arrest. However when the tape was offered in evidence, appellant's attorney stated that he had no objection. Thus no error was saved on this issue. Zupp v. State, (1972) 258 Ind. 625, 283 N.E.2d 540.

We observe, however, that even had the appellant objected to the admission of the tape, the objection would not have been sustainable. Appellant argues that his consent was involuntarily made in light of the "totality of circumstances" test because he was hung over and ill when the statement was made and that by reason of his military service, he had developed a habit of submission to "authoritative commands." We see no merit in either of these contentions. The police officers testified that at the time of his arrest the appellant was coherent and did not appear to be ill. There is no evidence whatsoever of police abuse or improper action of any sort. Appellant was fully advised of his rights at all times and given every opportunity to make use of those rights.

Appellant next argues that the trial court erred in overruling his motion to suppress items seized in the search of his automobile. We need not pass upon the question as to whether the trial judge erred in admitting the evidence for the reason the appellant waived this issue by his express statement at the time the items were offered that he had no objection to their admission. The facts in this case are similar to those in Harrison v. State, (1972) 258 Ind. 359, 281 N.E.2d 98. In that case the appellant had filed a motion to suppress which had been overruled. At the trial, when the objects he had previously sought to suppress were offered in evidence, the trial judge asked if the appellant had any objections to their admission and the appellant had stated no objections. Harrison follows a long line of cases in Indiana which have required that even though a motion to suppress has been overruled prior to trial, when the evidence is later offered at trial no error will be preserved unless there is an objection at that time. See Langley v. State, (1971) 256 Ind. 199, 267 N.E.2d 538; Smith v. State, (1971) 256 Ind. 603, 271 N.E.2d 133; Thomas v. State, (1971) 256 Ind. 309, 268 N.E.2d 609. There is a very sound and practical reason to preserve this proposition of law. During a hearing on a motion to suppress, the State merely represents to the judge the manner in which it will present evidence later at the trial. It is upon the State's representation as to what will be presented and how it will be presented that the judge must make his ruling on the motion to suppress. If, in fact, at the trial the evidence does not turn out to be as represented by the State, or if the State fails to present the evidence in proper manner and there is no objection made by defense counsel, no error has been made by the trial judge in conducting the case. If the parties wish to preserve error in such an instance, they are required to make a proper objection at the proper time.

In two recent cases Lockridge v. State, (1975) 263 Ind. 678, 338 N.E.2d 275 and Zion v. State, (1977) Ind., 365 N.E.2d 766 statements have been made indicating that if a motion to suppress had been overruled prior to trial it was unnecessary for counsel later during the trial to object when the questioned evidence is offered. To follow such a rule of law and overrule the existing line of authority in this State, would permit a situation to arise where a trial judge could make a proper ruling on a motion to suppress and later, when evidence was offered without objection, the trial court would be subject to reversal by a process of tacking whereby the unobjected to error at trial would be related back to a proper ruling by the judge in denying a motion to suppress. For that reason, the language in Lockridge and Zion is disapproved and the line of authority referred to in Harrison is reaffirmed.

Appellant's next allegation of error is that the police officers should not have been permitted to testify as to appellant's statement that the knife, her clothes and purse were in the trunk of his car. Appellant argues that this statement was a product of an involuntary waiver or consent to an illegal search and that it should have been excluded as fruits of a poison tree. At trial appellant made no objection to this testimony; therefore any error in its admission must be deemed waived. Zupp v. State, (1972) 258 Ind. 625, 283 N.E.2d 540.

Appellant's next contention is that his defense was prejudiced by the failure of the trial court to allow certain testimony by lay witnesses relating to their opinions as to his character, sanity and instances of prior conduct. The testimony in question was as follows:


"Q. Do you know the general reputation of Joseph Pointon for honesty and truthfulness in the place where he worked?

"A. Yes.

"Q. And what is that reputation?

"A. It is a good reputation.

"Q. And when you say a 'good reputation,' just exactly what do you mean"

"A. You indicated truthfulness, and I do not know of an occasion when he said anything that was untruthful."

The court sustained the State's objection to this answer and told the jurors to disregard it.


"Q. . . . Do you have an opinion as to his reputation for peace and quiet and truthfulness?

"A. I'd say it would be very good.

"Q. Did there come a time when you learned that Mr. Pointon was arrested for the crime for which he is on trial"

"A. Yes, there was, and I was surprised.

"MR. ROULE:...

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    • 2 Agosto 1978
    ...admissibility. Not only must an objection be made when the evidence is offered at trial in order to preserve error, Pointon v. State (1978), Ind., 372 N.E.2d 1159, but the court may hear additional evidence regarding admissibility and reconsider its earlier ruling. See, e. g., Magley v. Sta......
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