Seeglitz v. State

Decision Date17 November 1986
Docket NumberNo. 985S388,985S388
Citation500 N.E.2d 144
PartiesGregory S. SEEGLITZ, Appellant, v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee.
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

Herbert J. Shaps, Walter J. Alvarez, Merrillville, for appellant.

Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen., Louis E. Ransdell, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

GIVAN, Chief Justice.

A jury trial resulted in a conviction of Burglary, a Class C felony. The jury found appellant to be an habitual offender. The court sentenced appellant to thirty-eight (38) years based upon the habitual offender finding.

The facts are: On August 25, 1984, at approximately 11:00 p.m., appellant and an accomplice broke into and entered the building of Tomken's Citco Service Station in Lake Station, Indiana. Julie Eidman testified that she drove to the gas station to buy a soft drink shortly before 11:00 p.m. She noticed the bottom section of the glass door on the east side of the building was broken. She observed a man standing near a green Chevrolet Nova and appellant walking toward the broken door. Eidman telephoned the police when she arrived home.

The police chased appellant's car until it failed to negotiate a sharp curve and went over an embankment into a heavily wooded area. The police searched the area but did not locate the occupants of the car. Richard Ausenbaugh, a patrol sergeant, was involved in the chase. He observed the following items in the car: a few quarts of oil, 45 cartons of cigarettes, a radio, a cash register drawer, a Firefighters Crusade donation display and an empty vodka bottle.

Around 1:30 a.m., appellant approached the scene of the accident and inquired about the car. He stated his name was Gary Anderson and that his aunt sent him to find out why the police had possession of his cousin's vehicle. Appellant then reached into the open passenger's window and removed a pack of cigarettes from the glove compartment. Ausenbaugh shined a light on appellant and noticed that he had cuts and scratches on his shoulder. Ausenbaugh became suspicious and summoned Detective Basista to the scene. When Basista arrived, he identified appellant as one of the occupants of the car and placed him under arrest.

Appellant contends that the trial court erred by admitting into evidence statements made by him to officers prior to his arrest and without the advisement of Miranda warnings.

The procedural safeguards of Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, apply only to "custodial interrogation." Minneman v. State (1982), Ind., 441 N.E.2d 673, cert. denied (1983), 461 U.S. 933, 103 S.Ct. 2099, 77 L.Ed.2d 307; Orr v. State (1984), Ind.App., 472 N.E.2d 627. Miranda requirements are not applicable to general on the scene questioning in a noncoercive atmosphere. Hatcher v. State (1980), 274 Ind. 230, 410 N.E.2d 1187; Johnson v. State (1978), 269 Ind. 370, 380 N.E.2d 1236. An officer may ask routine questions for the purpose of obtaining basic identifying information without giving Miranda warnings. Hatcher, supra; Holt v. State (1978), 178 Ind.App. 631, 383 N.E.2d 467.

Appellant asserts the officer placed him in custody at the time he began questioning him. The record does not support appellant's assertion. Appellant approached the officer at the scene of the accident and claimed to be an agent of the car's owner. The officer asked appellant his name and he replied Gary Anderson. No interrogation occurred prior to appellant's arrest. We find there is no evidence of a coercive atmosphere that is indicative of custodial interrogation. Miranda warnings were not required.

Appellant next contends the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress his confession. He claims his Miranda rights waiver, signed at 3:55 a.m., was not properly executed because the officer had a duty to refrain from interrogating him once he refused to waive his rights at 1:59 a.m.

It is the State's burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant voluntarily and intelligently waived his rights, and that defendant's confession was voluntarily given. Bevill v. State (1985), Ind., 472 N.E.2d 1247; Gentry v. State (1984), Ind., 471 N.E.2d 263. This Court examines the totality of circumstances to determine whether the waiver was induced by violence, threats, promises or other improper influences. Peterson v. State (1983), Ind., 453 N.E.2d 196. If the trial court's finding is supported by substantial evidence of probative value, it will not be disturbed. Fleener v. State (1980), 274 Ind. 473, 412 N.E.2d 778.

At the police station, Detective Basista was able to confirm, by description and computer records, that appellant was Gregory Seeglitz. Appellant stated this information was correct. Appellant then offered to make a deal with the prosecutor's office by volunteering information concerning burglaries in order to reduce the charges brought against him. Detective Basista declined and explained that he did not have the power to arrange such a deal. Appellant refused to sign the Miranda waiver form at 1:59 a.m.

Appellant argues he did not initiate the conversation which led to the signing of the Miranda waiver form at 3:55 a.m. He claims the police continued the interrogation by inquiring about his identity after he explicitly refused to waive his rights.

The record indicates appellant persisted in volunteering information concerning other burglaries after he refused to sign the waiver form. The officers did not coerce appellant into signing the waiver form nor did they make any specific promises to appellant regarding a reduction of charges. The inquiry into appellant's identity was to confirm, for their records, that appellant was Gregory Seeglitz and not Gregory Anderson. We believe there was substantial evidence of probative value to support a finding that appellant voluntarily and intelligently waived his rights. We find no error in the admission of the confession into evidence.

Appellant next contends the trial court erred by refusing to allow Dr. Brown to testify as to statements appellant made during psychiatric evaluation. Appellant argues the psychiatrist's testimony regarding such statements constitutes substantive evidence of his condition as a chronic alcoholic and is therefore admissible to show his inability to form the necessary specific intent.

The question of a person's criminal intent at the time of the commission of the crime, not related to an issue of insanity, is a direct question of fact for the jury and not a proper subject of expert testimony. Schlacter v. State (1984), Ind., 466 N.E.2d 1; Blackmon v. State (1983), Ind., 455 N.E.2d 586. The admission of expert testimony is within the sole discretion of the trial court and will be reversed only for abuse. Dougherty v. State (1983), Ind.App., 451 N.E.2d 382, reh'g. dismissed, 462 N.E.2d 212.

The trial court ruled that Dr. Brown's testimony of his observations of appellant was admissible for the purpose of demonstrating appellant's condition as a chronic alcoholic. However, Dr. Brown was not permitted to testify or relate facts regarding appellant's statements as to his ability or inability to form the necessary criminal intent at the time of the commission of the crime. A psychiatrist's testimony in this regard would have been nothing more than hearsay and was not proper as an aid for the jury's determination of the issue of the presence or absence of criminal intent. Simpson v. State (1978), 269 Ind. 495, 381 N.E.2d 1229. We find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to allow Dr. Brown to testify as to statements appellant made during psychiatric evaluation.

Appellant next contends that Final Instruction No. 10 improperly defined the intoxication defense and therefore misled the jury. He argues that some reference to temporary mental incapacity was necessary.

Final Instruction No. 10 correctly informed the jury that intoxication may be shown to the extent that it tends to negate the element of intent. Contrary to appellant's assertion, we find the challenged instruction was an accurate statement of the law and would not mislead the jury. The trial court did not err in giving the instruction.

Appellant next contends the jury's verdict was contrary to law and not sustained by sufficient evidence. This Court will not weigh conflicting evidence nor judge the credibility of witnesses. Washington v. State (1982), Ind., 441 N.E.2d 1355.

Descriptions of the offender matched appellant's appearance. Detective Basista observed appellant in the green Chevrolet Nova leaving the scene of the crime. The car was registered in the name of Greg and/or Emma Seeglitz. Officers at the site of the accident observed items stolen in the burglary in the backseat and trunk of the car. The evidence is sufficient to support the jury's verdict. There is no error on this issue.


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  • Byrd v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • 18 June 1992
    ...for expert opinion, as this matter is a question of fact for the jury. Reichard v. State (1987), Ind., 510 N.E.2d 163; Seeglitz v. State (1986), Ind., 500 N.E.2d 144. 2 Moreover, an expert is not permitted to give an opinion on the guilt or innocence of the defendant. Ross v. State (1987), ......
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  • Pasco v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • 12 December 1990
    ...warnings required where an officer asks routine questions for the purpose of obtaining basic identifying information. Seeglitz v. State (1986), Ind., 500 N.E.2d 144. Custodial interrogation refers to questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custod......
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