Reburn v. State, 480S107

Decision Date09 June 1981
Docket NumberNo. 480S107,480S107
Citation421 N.E.2d 604
PartiesMargaret Ellen REBURN, Appellant, v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee.
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

Stephen C. Haas, Evansville, for appellant.

Linley E. Pearson and Theodore L. Sendak, Attys. Gen., John K. Silk, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

DeBRULER, Justice.

Appellant, Margaret Reburn, was convicted in the Vanderburgh Superior Court in a trial by jury presided over by the Honorable Terry D. Dietsch, of the crime of murder in violation of Ind.Code § 35-42-1-1(1). She received a sentence of thirty years. She was charged with shooting her husband. Appeal is predicated upon:

(1) the alleged insufficiency of evidence to convict;

(2) rulings of the court excluding opinion testimony;

(3) rulings of the court excluding an oral statement of appellant;

(4) rulings of the court in giving and refusing to give instructions relative to evidence of motive and the manner of evaluating the evidence;

(5) the ruling of the court refusing to grant a new trial on the grounds of newly discovered evidence.

1. At about 12:00 o'clock noon on June 15, 1979, appellant and her husband, Virgil, the decedent, were observed by a parking lot attendant sitting inside a truck parked in the lot and talking. Moments later appellant approached the attendant in a dazed condition and said "my husband", and "in the truck". As other witnesses appeared, appellant was observed crying and mostly incoherent, but was heard to say "I did it, I did it, I shot him". Witnesses then observed the victim in the truck located on the driver's side, but slumped over onto the seat with blood on his shirt and on the seat. The windows were rolled up. The engine was not running. The passenger side door was closed and the driver side door was open several inches. The glove compartment was open, and a nine-shot revolver was on the floor on the passenger side pointing toward the driver's side. The revolver contained seven live rounds and two spent rounds. Mr. Reburn suffered two bullet wounds to the head from which he died of brain damage. One round entered the right side of the head one and one-half inches back from the ear and the other entered the same side two and one-half inches behind the ear. In the opinion of the pathologist, the weapon was at least eighteen inches from the victim's head when the shots were fired.

When the claim of insufficiency of evidence is made on appeal, the conviction will be affirmed if the evidence and reasonable inferences therefrom have substantial probative value, and is such that from it a reasonable trier of fact could infer guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Glover v. State, (1970) 253 Ind. 536, 255 N.E.2d 657. The evidence which supports the verdict of guilty in this case has this character. If believed, it was sufficient to warrant the jury in concluding to a moral certainty beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant knowingly caused her husband to die by shooting him.

2. A psychologist was asked in direct and hypothetical form during direct examination by defense counsel whether the facts presented were consistent with an accidental shooting. Objections to the questions were sustained. One of the several bases relied upon by the trial judge for the rulings was legally sufficient. As a general rule the testimony of witnesses must be confined to statements of fact. Opinion testimony is admissible under an exception to this general rule. Opinions are not properly permitted to be given in testimony in instances where the jurors are as well qualified to form an opinion upon the facts as the witnesses. Brunker v. Cummins, (1892) 133 Ind. 443, 32 N.E. 732; Carter v. State, (1980) Ind., 412 N.E.2d 825. The jurors as ordinary men and women possessed the full capacity to evaluate the facts and circumstances shown to surround this shooting as to their being consistent with an accidental shooting. The court ruling was therefore correct, and did not, as contended, impede to any degree the defense in the presentation of its theory of the case.

3. Thomas Greenwell, friend of appellant and her husband, testified for the prosecution to describe the manner in which he had observed Mr. Reburn handle guns. Preliminarily he stated that he had received a telephone call from a hospital employee, relaying a request of appellant to him, that she wished for him to join her there. The shooting occurred at shortly before 12:00 noon. He arrived at the hospital at 12:15 p. m., and first spoke with appellant at 3:00 p. m., after she emerged from a session with police officers. On cross-examination the witness was asked what appellant had said to him at that point. An objection that the question called for a self-serving declaration was sustained.

An offer to prove was made that the witness would testify that appellant had said to him, "They think I tried to kill him but I did not intend...

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14 cases
  • Noblesville Casting Div. of TRW, Inc. v. Prince
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • August 11, 1982
    ...are as well qualified to form an opinion based on the facts presented. Green v. State, (1981) Ind., 422 N.E.2d 1190; Reburn v. State, (1981) Ind., 421 N.E.2d 604. The converse circumstances, of course, provide the raison d'etre for expert witnesses. When the subject of the opinion is a matt......
  • Carter v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • August 25, 1987
    ...statement made more than three hours after criminal culpability attaches is not made during the "commission of the crime." Reburn v. State (1981), Ind., 421 N.E.2d 604. Reburn does not stand for such a broad proposition and, in any case, is factually distinct. Reburn's statement was made at......
  • Powers v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • October 21, 1982
    ...To allow Croft to relate the opinion that the majority claims he related, would invade the province of the jury. See Reburn v. State, (1981) Ind., 421 N.E.2d 604, 606 (defense psychologist may not offer an opinion about whether the facts are consistent with an accidental shooting); Ashbaugh......
  • Grimes v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • July 6, 1983
    ...City of Indianapolis v. Robinson, (1981) Ind.App., 427 N.E.2d 902, trans. denied (1982). Appellant argues in reliance upon Reburn v. State, (1981) Ind., 421 N.E.2d 604, reh. denied. Our holding in Reburn, however, does not support Appellant's contention. In Reburn, a psychologist was questi......
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