Saylor v. State, No. 48S00-9712-PD-647.

Docket NºNo. 48S00-9712-PD-647.
Citation765 N.E.2d 535
Case DateMarch 20, 2002
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

765 N.E.2d 535

Benny SAYLOR, Appellant-Petitioner,
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee-Respondent

No. 48S00-9712-PD-647.

Supreme Court of Indiana.

March 20, 2002.


765 N.E.2d 544
Susan K. Carpenter, Public Defender of Indiana, Thomas C. Hinesley, Deputy Public Defender, Emily Mills Hawk, Deputy Public Defender, Indianapolis, IN, for Appellant

Karen M. Freeman-Wilson, Attorney General of Indiana, Arthur Thaddeus Perry, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, IN, for Appellee.

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765 N.E.2d 543
ON APPEAL FROM THE DENIAL OF POST-CONVICTION RELIEF

RUCKER, Justice.

Summary

A jury convicted Benny Saylor of murder, felony murder, robbery, and confinement in the 1992 stabbing death of Judy VanDuyn. Over the jury's contrary recommendation, the trial court sentenced Saylor to death, and we affirmed the convictions and sentence on direct appeal. Saylor v. State, 686 N.E.2d 80 (Ind.1997). Thereafter, Saylor filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. He now appeals that denial raising several issues for our review some of which are waived because they were known and available at the time of Saylor's direct appeal.1 We address the remaining issues, which we rephrase as follows: (1) did the State suppress exculpatory evidence thereby violating

765 N.E.2d 545
Saylor's right to due process in violation of Brady v. Maryland; (2) was Saylor denied the effective assistance of trial counsel; (3) was Saylor denied the effective assistance of appellate counsel; (4) is Indiana's death penalty statute unconstitutional in light of Apprendi v. New Jersey; and (5) did the post-conviction court display bias against Saylor thus rendering the court's judgment unreliable. We affirm the post-conviction court's denial of Saylor's petition for post-conviction relief

Factual and Procedural Background2

At approximately 10:00 p.m. on June 17, 1992, Judy VanDuyn drove her van to a twenty-four hour laundromat at 8th Street and the Bypass in Anderson, Indiana. About an hour after she left, a violent storm hit the Anderson area. The storm, which was accompanied by large amounts of rainfall, wind, and lightning, caused widespread power outages and property damage and even set off tornado warning sirens.

Just after midnight on June 18, Charles Teague, the owner of the laundromat, received a telephone call from an unidentified woman complaining that the machines had stopped. When Teague arrived at the laundromat just ten minutes later, there were no cars in the front parking lot, and no one was inside. However, Teague found clothes in some of the washing machines. After determining that there was a power outage, Teague decided to lock up and go home. Leaving the laundromat, Teague noticed a red car parked at the side of the building.

After VanDuyn had not returned home by 3:30 a.m., her husband, Paul VanDuyn, became worried and proceeded to search for her. He arrived at the laundromat at approximately 4:25 a.m. and found the door locked. Looking inside, Paul recognized some of the children's clothes in one of the washing machines and plastic bags in which VanDuyn had carried the laundry. As he was leaving the laundromat, Paul noticed a red Chevrolet Cavalier parked along the side of the building in an odd manner. Suspicious, he wrote down a description of the car and the license plate number. He then returned home and reported his missing wife to police.

Around 1:00 a.m., David Conrad, who lives on a rural Madison County farm, was watching the storm when he saw a van turn into his driveway. After a short period of time, the lights on the van shut off. The storm began to subside shortly thereafter, and Conrad decided to drive around the farm to survey for possible damage. As he started his truck, Conrad noted the lights on the van came on and the van began backing out of the driveway. It eventually came to rest in a field at the end of the driveway. Approaching the van, Conrad saw two people inside, a woman in the driver's seat and a man in the passenger seat. When Conrad asked the woman if there was a problem or if she needed help, the woman indicated that she did not. Assuming the couple was parking and wanted privacy, Conrad went on his way.

Gary Gibson also went out to check for storm damage early that morning and came across the van in Conrad's field a little after 3:00 a.m. When Gibson looked inside, he discovered a female body covered in blood lying on the floor between the seats. The body was identified as Judy VanDuyn. A later autopsy revealed that she had been stabbed or cut approximately forty-five times, twenty-eight times to her left breast alone, which caused severe

765 N.E.2d 546
internal injury and ultimately her death.

Investigating police officers arrived at the crime scene around 4:45 a.m. Because the field was extremely muddy from the storm, investigators discovered a trail of shoeprints approximately a half of a mile long leading away from the van. Along this trail of shoeprints, investigators found VanDuyn's purse and a dollar bill with blood on it. The shoeprints were so clear that investigators could read the brand name of the shoes as Jordache. Investigators also found a matching shoeprint on a piece of paper inside the van.

At 8:00 a.m., Captain Mark Thompson and Detective Robert Blount of the Madison County Sheriff's Department arrived at the VanDuyn home. They informed Paul that his wife had been the victim of a homicide. Paul gave them the description and license plate number of the car he had seen parked at the side of the laundromat earlier that morning. Captain Thompson ran a check on the license plate number and discovered that the car's owner was Benny L. Saylor of Anderson.

At 9:40 a.m., Captain Thompson and other police officers arrived at Saylor's house. A red Chevrolet vehicle, with a license plate number matching the one given by Paul, was parked in the driveway. When Saylor came to the door, the officers observed dried blood on the right side of his temple and hairline, a fresh laceration to his left ring finger, and numerous abrasions on his arms. Further, Saylor matched the description that Conrad had just given police of the man he had seen in VanDuyn's van earlier that morning. After reading Saylor his Miranda rights, the officers questioned him about his whereabouts during the night. Saylor said after spending the evening drinking alcohol and doing drugs with his friend Fredrick "Butch" VanHorn, he took VanHorn home around 12:30 a.m. and then went straight home himself. Saylor later said that he went to the laundromat to obtain change to buy a drink before taking VanHorn home. When the officers questioned Saylor about his injuries, Saylor responded that the injury on his temple was from a fight with VanHorn. When asked about the other injuries, Saylor requested an attorney, at which point the officers ceased all questioning.

The officers immediately arrested Saylor and took him to the Madison County Jail. At the jail, police searched Saylor and found twenty-two dollars in wet currency and a soaking wet billfold. Police then executed a search warrant at Saylor's house. They found a pair of wet Jordache tennis shoes, which the FBI later determined were consistent with the shoeprints found at the crime scene, and a pair of soaking wet jeans. Later that day, Conrad viewed a line-up at the jail and positively identified Saylor as the person he had seen in VanDuyn's van earlier that morning.

On June 23, 1992, the State charged Saylor with murder, felony murder, and robbery and also filed a notice of its intent to seek the death penalty. The State later added a charge of confinement. Pursuant to Indiana Criminal Rule 24, the trial court appointed attorneys Jeffrey Lockwood and Mitchell Chabraja to represent Saylor. While incarcerated before trial, Saylor told Richard Herche, another inmate at the jail, several details about the crime. Specifically, Saylor told Herche that he had seen VanDuyn in the laundromat and decided to rob her when she brought her clothes out to the van and that he used a knife to force her to get into the van and drive away.

The trial was held January 5-18, 1994. The jury convicted Saylor as charged but recommended against the death penalty. Rejecting the jury's recommendation, the

765 N.E.2d 547
trial court sentenced Saylor to death. We affirmed the convictions and sentence on direct appeal. Thereafter, Saylor filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. This appeal followed.

Standard of Review for Post-Conviction Proceedings

The petitioner in a post-conviction proceeding bears the burden of establishing grounds for relief by a preponderance of the evidence. Ind. Post-Conviction Rule 1(5); Curry v. State, 674 N.E.2d 160, 161 (Ind.1996). When appealing from the denial of post-conviction relief, the petitioner stands in the position of one appealing from a negative judgment. Curry, 674 N.E.2d at 161. On review, we will not reverse the judgment unless the evidence as a whole unerringly and unmistakably leads to a conclusion opposite that reached by the post-conviction court. Id. Further, the post-conviction court in this case entered findings of fact and conclusions of law in accordance with Indiana Post-Conviction Rule 1(6). "A post-conviction court's findings and judgment will be reversed only upon a showing of clear errorÔÇöthat which leaves us with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made." Ben-Yisrayl v. State, 729 N.E.2d 102, 106 (Ind.2000) (quotation omitted), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 122 S.Ct. 73, 151 L.Ed.2d 38 (2001).

I.

Non-disclosure of Exculpatory Evidence

Saylor makes a number of assertions claiming the State suppressed material exculpatory or impeaching evidence. Specifically, he claims the State (1) failed to provide...

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61 practice notes
  • Spencer v. State, CR-12-1837
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • February 26, 2015
    ...133 So. 3d 420, 469 (Ala. Crim. App. 2009) (quoting Pruitt v. State, 903 N.E.2d 899, 939 (Ind. 2009), quoting in turn Saylor v. State, 765 N.E.2d 535, 565 (Ind. 2002), quoting in turn Prowell v. State, 741 N.E.2d 704, 708-09 (Ind. 2001)). 3. As this Court previously stated, any claim concer......
  • Overstreet v. State, No. 41S00-0306-PD-249.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • November 27, 2007
    ...the evidence might implicate a third party, it does not disprove Overstreet's major participation in these crimes. See Saylor v. State, 765 N.E.2d 535, 556 (Ind.2002) (rejecting the claim that counsel rendered ineffective assistance for failing to introduce additional 877 N.E.2d 164 evidenc......
  • 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
    ...of counsel. We decline to consider sentence reliability as an independent freestanding post-conviction claim. See Saylor v. State, 765 N.E.2d 535, 544 n. 1 (Ind.2002); Wrinkles, 749 N.E.2d at 1187 n. 3; Allen v. State, 749 N.E.2d 1158, 1176 n. 28 Stevens v. State, 770 N.E.2d 739, 761-62 (In......
  • Jackson v. State, CR–06–1026.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • June 21, 2013
    ...for our trial bench. For this reason, we do not prohibit the practice of adopting a party's proposed findings.’ “Saylor v. State, 765 N.E.2d 535, 565 (Ind.2002) (quoting Prowell [ v. State], 741 N.E.2d [704], 708–09 [ (Ind.2001) ] ). [133 So.3d 470] “Therefore, although ‘we do not encourage......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
61 cases
  • Spencer v. State, CR-12-1837
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • February 26, 2015
    ...133 So. 3d 420, 469 (Ala. Crim. App. 2009) (quoting Pruitt v. State, 903 N.E.2d 899, 939 (Ind. 2009), quoting in turn Saylor v. State, 765 N.E.2d 535, 565 (Ind. 2002), quoting in turn Prowell v. State, 741 N.E.2d 704, 708-09 (Ind. 2001)). 3. As this Court previously stated, any claim concer......
  • Overstreet v. State, No. 41S00-0306-PD-249.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • November 27, 2007
    ...the evidence might implicate a third party, it does not disprove Overstreet's major participation in these crimes. See Saylor v. State, 765 N.E.2d 535, 556 (Ind.2002) (rejecting the claim that counsel rendered ineffective assistance for failing to introduce additional 877 N.E.2d 164 evidenc......
  • 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
    ...of counsel. We decline to consider sentence reliability as an independent freestanding post-conviction claim. See Saylor v. State, 765 N.E.2d 535, 544 n. 1 (Ind.2002); Wrinkles, 749 N.E.2d at 1187 n. 3; Allen v. State, 749 N.E.2d 1158, 1176 n. 28 Stevens v. State, 770 N.E.2d 739, 761-62 (In......
  • Jackson v. State, CR–06–1026.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • June 21, 2013
    ...for our trial bench. For this reason, we do not prohibit the practice of adopting a party's proposed findings.’ “Saylor v. State, 765 N.E.2d 535, 565 (Ind.2002) (quoting Prowell [ v. State], 741 N.E.2d [704], 708–09 [ (Ind.2001) ] ). [133 So.3d 470] “Therefore, although ‘we do not encourage......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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