Sills v. State

Decision Date14 May 1984
Docket NumberNo. 982S336,982S336
Citation463 N.E.2d 228
PartiesShawn Lynn SILLS, Appellant (Defendant below), v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff below).
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

Stephen J. Michael, John W. Bailey, Donna Redding, Huntington, for appellant.

Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen., Michael Gene Worden, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

HUNTER, Justice.

The defendant, Shawn Lynn Sills, was convicted of murder, Ind.Code Sec. 35-42-1-1 (Burns 1979 Repl.). The defendant was sentenced to a term of forty years, with twenty years added for aggravating circumstances. The defendant raises the following eight issues in this direct appeal:

1. Whether the trial court erred in denying the defendant's motion to suppress his confession and by allowing the introduction into evidence of a tape recording of the confession;

2. Whether the trial court erred in denying the defendant's motion to withdraw his plea of not guilty and by denying defendant's motion to present evidence before the state had presented its case;

3. Whether the trial court erred in denying the defendant's motion for a change of venue;

4. Whether the trial court erred by admitting into evidence and displaying to the jury certain photographs of the victim;

5. Whether the trial court erred by admitting into evidence a "sexual assault kit";

6. Whether the trial court erred by admitting into evidence certain diagnostic reports;

7. Whether the trial court erred when it failed to read to the jury seven of the defendant's instructions; and

8. Whether the sixty-year sentence was manifestly unreasonable.

The facts most favorable to the state show that the defendant was arrested for the murder of Mary Haines, an eighty-two year old woman. The defendant, then sixteen years old, entered the victim's house, found her sitting on the floor, and beat her to death with his fists.


Shortly after his arrest on September 9, 1981, the defendant was taken to an interrogation room. Present at this time were Officer Jim Walters and Sheriff Ray Williams. The defendant's father, George Sills, arrived about fifteen minutes later. The defendant and his father were advised of their Miranda rights and both indicated they understood. The defendant then signed a written waiver of rights form and the father signed as a witness. Walters and Williams began questioning the defendant. A few minutes later, the defendant and his father conferred privately, during which time the father urged the defendant to tell the truth. After five minutes, the father summoned Walters and Williams and indicated his son was ready to talk. The defendant and his father were again advised of their constitutional rights. The defendant then began to discuss the events surrounding the murder. The officers asked the defendant to repeat those statements; this time the statements were tape-recorded. The defendant was again advised of his rights before giving the taped statements.

As noted above, the defendant was a juvenile at the time of his arrest and interrogation. Under Ind.Code Sec. 31-6-7-3 (Burns 1980 Repl.):

"(a) Any rights guaranteed to the child under the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of Indiana, or any other law may be waived only:

"(1) by counsel retained or appointed to represent the child, if the child knowingly and voluntarily joins with the waiver; or

"(2) by the child's custodial parent, guardian, custodian, or guardian ad litem if:

"(A) that person knowingly and voluntarily waives the right;

"(B) that person has no interest adverse to the child;

"(C) meaningful consultation has occurred between that person and the child; and

"(D) the child knowingly and voluntarily joins with the waiver."

This statute is essentially a codification of our holding in Lewis v. State, (1972) 259 Ind. 431, 288 N.E.2d 138. The code, however, significantly changed our holding in Lewis in one way. Whereas we stated in Lewis that a child could, by himself, waive his constitutional rights, the code prohibits unilateral waiver by the child. Instead, only an attorney or a custodial parent can waive the child's rights. The defendant contends that, since he signed the waiver form and his father signed only as a witness, the requirements of Ind.Code Sec. 31-6-7-3 were not met. In support of this argument, he cites Deckard v. State, (1981) Ind.App., 425 N.E.2d 256.

In Deckard, the Court of Appeals dealt with the situation where the parent was present when the juvenile signed the waiver, but did not herself sign. The court held that "there is nothing from the face of the waiver to establish that [the juvenile's] mother knowingly and intelligently waived his rights." Id., 425 N.E.2d at 257. The concern in Deckard was whether there was a knowing and intelligent waiver of rights by the parent. No particular form is required to establish such a waiver. Powell v. State, (1982) Ind., 437 N.E.2d 969. There must, however, be sufficient evidence to establish that the parent and child joined in the waiver. In Deckard, the evidence was insufficient since the waiver was signed only by the child, thus preventing the Court of Appeals from determining whether the parent waived the rights. Here, the evidence does establish that the parent joined in the waiver. The father signed the waiver form, albeit on a line designated as "witness." In addition, the father testified at the hearing on the motion to suppress that he did not object to his son giving statements to the officers and, in fact, encouraged him to do so. The facts, taken as a whole, establish that the father and the defendant joined in the waiver and that the father knowingly and voluntarily waived his son's rights. As such, there was no unilateral waiver by the defendant.

The defendant also asserts that, even if the tape recording should not be suppressed pursuant to Deckard, it must be suppressed under Miranda v. Arizona, (1966) 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694. The defendant contends the interrogating officers continued to question him after he requested a lawyer. The record reflects a sharp discrepancy in the evidence. The defendant testified that he asked for an attorney three times and that each time the officers continued questioning. The defendant's father recalled the defendant asking for a lawyer twice. Sheriff Williams testified that the defendant asked for an attorney only once and that questioning then ceased. Williams further testified that the defendant was then allowed to talk alone with his father. After this brief conversation, the father requested that the questioning be resumed. The defendant was given his rights again, and the questioning resumed with the result being that the defendant gave the challenged incriminating statement.

The evidence on this issue is conflicting. As such, only that evidence which tends to support the trial court's ruling can be considered on appeal. Chandler v. State, (1981) Ind., 419 N.E.2d 142. We cannot weigh the evidence nor judge the credibility of witnesses. Chandler v. State.

The admissibility of defendant's challenged incriminating statement is governed most closely by the post-Miranda case of Edwards v. Arizona, (1981) 451 U.S. 477, 101 S.Ct. 1880, 68 L.Ed.2d 378. There the United States Supreme Court stated:

"[W]e ... hold that when an accused has invoked his right to have counsel present during custodial interrogation, a valid waiver of that right cannot be established by showing only that he responded to further police-initiated custodial interrogation even if he has been advised of his rights. We further hold that an accused, such as Edwards, having expressed his desire to deal with the police only through counsel, is not subject to further interrogation by the authorities until counsel has been made available to him, unless the accused himself initiates further communication, exchanges, or conversations with the police."

451 U.S. at 484-85, 101 S.Ct. at 1884-85, 68 L.Ed.2d at 386. Cf. Romine v. State, (1983) Ind., 455 N.E.2d 911; Bryan v. State, (1982) Ind., 438 N.E.2d 709. Here there is proof that the resumption of interrogation was not "police-initiated," but instead was initiated through a communication to interrogators by the father after consultation with the defendant. The defendant was then given a new Miranda advisement and responded without resistance to the renewed questioning. Edwards requires resumption to be initiated by the accused himself. It is certainly rational and we believe consistent with Edwards to regard the father here as the spokesman for both father and son who communicated their joint decision to the interrogators. Since there was substantial evidence of probative value to support the trial court's decision that the statements were given in compliance with Miranda, we cannot now disturb the ruling. Thus, for the reasons set forth above, the trial court did not err in denying the motion to suppress or in allowing the tape-recorded statements into evidence.


The defendant next contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to withdraw his plea of not guilty and in denying the defendant's "Motion to Present Evidence First and Open and Close Argument." The defendant asserts that by withdrawing his plea of not guilty, he was attempting to proceed solely on theories of not guilty by reason of intoxication and not guilty by reason of insanity. The defendant argues that since he bears the burden of proof on these issues, he should have been allowed to open and close the case.

At the time of this trial, our statute on motions to withdraw stated:

"The court may allow the defendant to withdraw his plea of not guilty for good cause shown. A motion to withdraw a plea of not guilty shall be in writing and shall state facts showing the reason why such plea should be withdrawn and in what respect the substantial rights of the defendant will be prejudiced if the motion is denied. The motion shall be...

To continue reading

Request your trial
44 cases
  • Meriweather v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • 30 Noviembre 1995
    ...and therefore to give an instruction on criminal trespass and conversion would have invited a compromise verdict); Sills v. State (1984) Ind., 463 N.E.2d 228, 235 (murder charge justified refusal of involuntary manslaughter because "[i]t is clear that the state sought only to charge for mur......
  • Sanchez v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • 26 Junio 2001
    ...statute is "void and without effect" is not clear. Id. at 1088. Terry adopted the concurring opinion in Sills v. State, 463 N.E.2d 228, 240 (Ind. 1984) (Givan, C.J.), overruled on other grounds by Wright v. State, 658 N.E.2d 563, 569-70 (Ind.1995), which took the view that every crime neces......
  • Wright v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • 17 Noviembre 1995
    ...of a conviction on a lesser included offense by the way it drafted the information in this case, the majority relied on Sills v. State (1984), Ind., 463 N.E.2d 228, 235, and Slayton v. State (1984), Ind.App., 471 N.E.2d 1154, 1157, which itself relied on Judge Garrard dissented, saying that......
  • State v. Van Cleave
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • 19 Diciembre 1996
    ...intoxication defense to those crimes that were defined by the talismanic phrases required by the revised statute. And in Sills v. State, 463 N.E.2d 228, 236 (Ind.1984), reh'g denied, we ruled that voluntary intoxication was not a defense to murder. Both the arson and murder statutes lacked ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Just say no excuse: the rise and fall of the intoxication defense.
    • United States
    • Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Vol. 87 No. 2, January 1997
    • 1 Enero 1997 a passive act, of which the inebriate is the victim. (20) 465 N.E.2d 1085 (Ind. 1984). (21) Id. at 1087-88 (quoting Sills v. State, 463 N.E.2d 228, 240-41 (Ind. 1984) (Givan, J., (22) Most states view the act of becoming stuporous as adequate to constitute some level of mens rea. See Arn......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT