Ross v. State, No. 277S55

Docket NºNo. 277S55
Citation268 Ind. 471, 376 N.E.2d 1117
Case DateJune 08, 1978

Page 1117

376 N.E.2d 1117
268 Ind. 471
Charles Melvin ROSS, Appellant (Defendant below),
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff below).
No. 277S55.
Supreme Court of Indiana.
June 8, 1978.

[268 Ind. 472] John H. Meyers, Lafayette, for appellant (defendant below).

Theodore L. Sendak, Atty. Gen., Jane M. Gootee, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee (plaintiff below).

HUNTER, Justice.

The defendant, Charles Ross, was convicted by a jury of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree murder. He now appeals raising the following issues:

1. Whether the prosecutor commented erroneously on the defendant's failure to testify;

2. Whether the search warrant was defective because the supporting affidavit did not contain an oath and did not show probable cause;

3. Whether the corpus delicti was established sufficiently to place the defendant's admissions into evidence; and

[268 Ind. 473] 4. Whether the motion to dismiss based on the ground that the informations were defective was erroneously denied.

Page 1118

The evidence most favorable to the state reveals that Adron Tucker, also known as Catherine Ross, lived with the defendant in Lafayette, Indiana, for fourteen years. They had five children. The three youngest children were brutally murdered when they were only a few months old. The remains of these children were found buried in the basement and the backyard of the home. Adron testified that at the time of the death of each infant, she was working the 11:00 p. m. 7:00 a. m. shift at various nursing homes.

Diana Elizabeth was born in March, 1970. One morning when Diana was approximately three months old, Adron returned home from work and couldn't find Diana. She asked the defendant where Diana was, and he replied that he had beaten her to death and buried her in the backyard. The defendant then threatened Adron and the other two children with a sawed-off shotgun, telling Adron not to report the killing.

Robert James was born in February, 1972. When Robert was about three months old, Adron returned home from work and found him missing. The defendant told Adron he had beaten Robert to death and buried him in the basement.

Earl Gene was born in May, 1973. When Earl was about six months old, Adron returned home from work and found him missing. This time the defendant told Adron that he threw the baby down the basement steps, put him in a tub of water and drowned him, and buried him in the basement. Adron did not go to the police because of continuous threats against her and the remaining two children.

Finally, in February, 1976, Adron left the defendant after he had fired his sawed-off shotgun at her and the two children. Adron returned to Indianapolis to her mother's home. She subsequently told the Indianapolis police about the above events and showed Lafayette police the locations of the [268 Ind. 474] graves. The remains of the three bodies were then recovered by the Layayette police.

I.

The defendant first contends that the prosecutor made an improper comment on the defendant's failure to testify. During the closing argument, the state reviewed the testimony of the witnesses. There had been testimony which contradicted some of Adron's statements. There had also been testimony which implied that Adron herself had beaten the children and may have been the one who killed them. The prosecutor devoted a great deal of time to argument about Adron's credibility and Adron's possible motives for not revealing the murders sooner. At the close of this part of his argument, he stated:

"Okay, Adron is the only person who could get up here, sit in this chair here, the only person brought in that I know of that could come in here and testify as to what happened. How it happened and who did it. Other than possibly the person who did it. But she is the only one has testified to that and she was our first witness."

The defendant objected to the last statement, but his objection was overruled. The defendant cites Rowley v. State (1972) 259 Ind. 209, 285 N.E.2d 646, in support of his position that the prosecutor's argument was an improper comment on the defendant's failure to testify.

It is true that unless it appears that there are witnesses other than the...

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14 practice notes
  • Swafford v. State, No. 1080S387
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • May 28, 1981
    ...to establish the corpus delicti, or fact that the specific crime charged has actually been committed by someone. Ross v. State, (1978) 268 Ind. 471, 376 N.E.2d 1117; Cambron v. State, (1975) 262 Ind. 660, 322 N.E.2d 712. The state is not required to prove the corpus delicti beyond a reasona......
  • Nash v. State, No. 2-581A181
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • April 7, 1982
    ...have held such declarations are sufficient to establish probable cause. Suggs v. State, (1981) Ind., 428 N.E.2d 226; Ross v. State, (1978) 268 Ind. 471, 376 N.E.2d 1117, cert. den. 439 U.S. 1080, 99 S.Ct. 862, 59 L.Ed.2d We therefore conclude declarations against penal interest constitute a......
  • Pitman v. State, No. 1181S337
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • June 11, 1982
    ...of defendant's constitutional and statutory rights not to testify. Crosson v. State, (1980) Ind., 410 N.E.2d 1194; Ross v. State, (1978) 268 Ind. 471, 376 N.E.2d 1117. However, it is also axiomatic that any alleged error presented to us without a specific objection at trial may be considere......
  • Hudgins v. State, No. 482S147
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • August 12, 1983
    ...prosecutor was attempting to rebut defendant's speculative theory, not to comment on defendant's refusal to testify. Ross v. State, (1978) 268 Ind. 471, 376 N.E.2d 1117. In addition, any erroneous inference the jury may have received regarding the defendant's obligation to explain or prove ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 cases
  • Swafford v. State, No. 1080S387
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • May 28, 1981
    ...to establish the corpus delicti, or fact that the specific crime charged has actually been committed by someone. Ross v. State, (1978) 268 Ind. 471, 376 N.E.2d 1117; Cambron v. State, (1975) 262 Ind. 660, 322 N.E.2d 712. The state is not required to prove the corpus delicti beyond a reasona......
  • Nash v. State, No. 2-581A181
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • April 7, 1982
    ...have held such declarations are sufficient to establish probable cause. Suggs v. State, (1981) Ind., 428 N.E.2d 226; Ross v. State, (1978) 268 Ind. 471, 376 N.E.2d 1117, cert. den. 439 U.S. 1080, 99 S.Ct. 862, 59 L.Ed.2d We therefore conclude declarations against penal interest constitute a......
  • Pitman v. State, No. 1181S337
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • June 11, 1982
    ...of defendant's constitutional and statutory rights not to testify. Crosson v. State, (1980) Ind., 410 N.E.2d 1194; Ross v. State, (1978) 268 Ind. 471, 376 N.E.2d 1117. However, it is also axiomatic that any alleged error presented to us without a specific objection at trial may be considere......
  • Hudgins v. State, No. 482S147
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • August 12, 1983
    ...prosecutor was attempting to rebut defendant's speculative theory, not to comment on defendant's refusal to testify. Ross v. State, (1978) 268 Ind. 471, 376 N.E.2d 1117. In addition, any erroneous inference the jury may have received regarding the defendant's obligation to explain or prove ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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