Robinson v. State, No. 49S00-9706-CR-387

Docket NºNo. 49S00-9706-CR-387
Citation699 N.E.2d 1146
Case DateOctober 02, 1998
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

Page 1146

699 N.E.2d 1146
Frank ROBINSON, Appellant (Defendant Below),
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff Below).
No. 49S00-9706-CR-387.
Supreme Court of Indiana.
Oct. 2, 1998.

Page 1147

Robert W. Hammerle, Joseph M. Cleary, Indianapolis, for Appellant.

Jeffrey A. Modisett, Attorney General, Rosemary L. Borek, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, for Appellee.

BOEHM, Justice.

A jury found Frank Robinson guilty of murder. In this direct appeal he challenges (1) the sufficiency of evidence and (2) the decision of the trial court to send certain exhibits into the jury room after deliberations had begun. We affirm.

Factual and Procedural Background

Frank Robinson and William Hill were both members of the 25th Street Mens Club in Indianapolis. The Club was a renovated house that contained some tables, a vending machine, a TV, and a back room used principally for gambling among the members. Hill was shot in the face at the Club on the evening of December 15, 1995 and died five days later. At trial, there were some variations in the witnesses' accounts of the killing. James Dunlop testified that he was gambling in the back room with Hill and Robinson. According to Dunlop, Robinson became upset over his losses, left the club, and returned a few minutes later "in a fit of rage, waiving a pistol with the hammer back cocked...." Dunlop testified that he heard Robinson say "I told you I was going to kill one of you mf's," and that Robinson shot Hill in the face after arguing with him for about two minutes.

Landis Secrest was also in the back room of the Club with Hill and Robinson, but he did not see any gambling. He testified that Robinson had been drinking on the evening of the killing and was "a little unruly," but did not appear to be angry when he left the Club. Secrest said Robinson returned fifteen to twenty minutes later. Secrest saw Robinson hold a cocked gun to Hill's head. Secrest then turned his attention to helping some of the older people away from the scene. Upon his return he heard, but did not see, the shooting.

Page 1148

Robinson also testified at trial. He denied either drinking alcohol or gambling on the night of the killing. He testified that he went to the club to hang some Christmas decorations. He carried a gun for personal protection and put it in the pocket of his jacket because he feared it would be stolen if he left it with his tools. He testified that he encountered Hill who without provocation picked him up and dropped him. As he fell, Robinson had his hand in his pocket holding the gun. According to Robinson, his finger "automatically" dropped to the trigger. The gun discharged when Robinson hit some lockers against the wall. Robinson testified that he then left the club, unaware that he had shot Hill. About two weeks after the shooting, Robinson surrendered to the police and, through his counsel, turned over the gun and jacket he was wearing on the night of the killing. A firearm examiner testified that a hole in Robinson's jacket was possibly caused by the firing of a bullet but he could not conclusively determine its source. 1 He also found traces of smoke powder inside the pocket of the jacket, which he testified was consistent with Robinson's version but also could have come from the hands of someone who handled a gun or ammunition.

About an hour after beginning its deliberations, the jury sent out a note requesting to see some photographs that were admitted into evidence. The requested photographs were sent to the jury room, over Robinson's objection. A short while later, the jury found Robinson guilty of murder. Robinson filed a motion to set aside the verdict alleging the trial court had erred in sending exhibits to the jury room. The motion was denied prior to sentencing, and Robinson was sentenced to the maximum term of sixty-five years imprisonment.

I. Sufficiency of the Evidence

Robinson challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction and asks that we enter judgment of conviction for reckless homicide in its stead. Our standard of review for sufficiency cases is well-settled. We consider only the evidence that supports the verdict and draw all reasonable inferences from that evidence. Bryant v. State, 644 N.E.2d 859, 860 (Ind.1994). We do not reweigh the evidence or judge the credibility of witnesses. Id. We will uphold a conviction if there is substantial evidence of probative value from which a jury could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Garrett v. State, 602 N.E.2d 139, 142 (Ind.1993).

Two State's witnesses were present at the Club on the night of the killing and provided testimony that supports the verdict. James Dunlop testified that Robinson was upset over losing money and, after returning to the Club, pointed a gun at both Dunlop and Hill and then shot Hill in the face. In addition to the eyewitness testimony of Dunlop, the State submitted the generally corroborative testimony of Landis Secrest who saw Robinson hold a cocked gun to Hill's head, but did not witness the actual shooting. Robinson would prefer that we believe his version of the incident and attach greater significance to the supportive but inconclusive testimony of the firearms examiner; however, this is not our province. The jury was in the best position to assess the credibility of witnesses and could assign little--or no--weight to Robinson's version. It is the jury's exclusive prerogative to weigh conflicting evidence. Id. Sufficient evidence supports the jury's conclusion that Robinson knowingly killed William Hill.

II. Jury Deliberations

Robinson also contends that the trial court erred in sending photographs to the jury room after deliberations had begun. The trial court initially indicated that it would not send exhibits with the jury. 2 However, after

Page 1149

deliberating for about an hour, the jury sent out a note requesting "Pictures of the back room & Hall Inside of House." The trial court allowed both the State and defense counsel to review the note and offer their suggestions in open court with the defendant present. The parties agreed which exhibits were pictures of the back room and hall. Over the Robinson's objection, the trial court then sent those photographs to the jury room.

A. Inapplicability of the Statute

The procedure for allowing jurors to review evidence and testimony during deliberations is governed by both...

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31 practice notes
  • Kilpatrick v. State, No. 49S00-0003-CR-185.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • April 11, 2001
    ...related to the presentation of witnesses or evidence, during which the right of cross-examination is implicated." Robinson v. State, 699 N.E.2d 1146, 1150 (Ind.1998). In this case, counsel for Ferrell was not a witness and his argument for directed verdict was not evidence. There is no Sixt......
  • Thacker v. State, No. 49S00-9710-CR-524
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • April 16, 1999
    ...702 N.E.2d 707 (Ind.1998) (statute inapplicable where jury requested to view evidence and did not show disagreement); Robinson v. State, 699 N.E.2d 1146 (Ind.1998) (statute inapplicable where jury note did not suggest disagreement). Sending the exhibits admitted at trial to the jury was not......
  • Patterson v. State, No. 46A03-0003-CR-109.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 18, 2000
    ...We note that the submission of materials to the jury room is governed by statute and case law. IND.CODE § 34-36-1-6; Robinson v. State, 699 N.E.2d 1146 (Ind.1998). However, our supreme court has held that the statute only applies to cases where the jury expresses an explicit disagreement co......
  • Roberts v. State, No. 47A01-9804-CR-152.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • June 30, 1999
    ...STANDARDS FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE (2d ed.1980), as the factors to be applied to jury requests made during deliberations. Robinson v. State, 699 N.E.2d 1146, 1149 (Ind.1998), citing Thomas, 259 Ind. at 540, 289 N.E.2d at 509. The version adopted reads as Materials to jury room. (a) The court in......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
31 cases
  • Kilpatrick v. State, No. 49S00-0003-CR-185.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • April 11, 2001
    ...related to the presentation of witnesses or evidence, during which the right of cross-examination is implicated." Robinson v. State, 699 N.E.2d 1146, 1150 (Ind.1998). In this case, counsel for Ferrell was not a witness and his argument for directed verdict was not evidence. There is no Sixt......
  • Thacker v. State, No. 49S00-9710-CR-524
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • April 16, 1999
    ...702 N.E.2d 707 (Ind.1998) (statute inapplicable where jury requested to view evidence and did not show disagreement); Robinson v. State, 699 N.E.2d 1146 (Ind.1998) (statute inapplicable where jury note did not suggest disagreement). Sending the exhibits admitted at trial to the jury was not......
  • Patterson v. State, No. 46A03-0003-CR-109.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 18, 2000
    ...We note that the submission of materials to the jury room is governed by statute and case law. IND.CODE § 34-36-1-6; Robinson v. State, 699 N.E.2d 1146 (Ind.1998). However, our supreme court has held that the statute only applies to cases where the jury expresses an explicit disagreement co......
  • Roberts v. State, No. 47A01-9804-CR-152.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • June 30, 1999
    ...STANDARDS FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE (2d ed.1980), as the factors to be applied to jury requests made during deliberations. Robinson v. State, 699 N.E.2d 1146, 1149 (Ind.1998), citing Thomas, 259 Ind. at 540, 289 N.E.2d at 509. The version adopted reads as Materials to jury room. (a) The court in......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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