Sumpter v. State, 1-872A54

Decision Date21 May 1973
Docket NumberNo. 1-872A54,1-872A54
Citation296 N.E.2d 131
PartiesJohnnie Marie SUMPTER, Appellant (Defendant below), v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff below).
CourtIndiana Appellate Court

John D. Clouse, Evansville, for appellant.

Theodore L. Sendak, Atty. Gen., Darrel K. Diamond, Deputy Atty. Gen., for appellee.


Sumpter was convicted by jury of living in a house of ill fame, pursuant to IC 1971, 35-30-1-1; Ind.Ann.Stat. § 10-4220 (Burns 1972 Supp.) which reads:

'Any female who frequents or lives in a house or houses of ill fame, knowing the same to be a house of ill fame, or who commits or offers to commit one (1) or more acts of sexual intercourse or sodomy for hire, shall be deemed guilty of prostitution, and on conviction thereof shall either be fined not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500); and imprisonment not to exceed 180 days or such person may be imprisoned in the Indiana women's prison not less than two (2) years nor more than five (5) years.'

Sumpter's first contention is that the conviction was not supported by sufficient evidence because the State did not specifically prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was a female.

The evidence showed that on the date charged, July 15, 1971, defendant was the owner of certain real property in the City of Evansville. The telephone and other utilities were in defendant's name. There were six bedrooms in the residence and defendant occupied the largest one which was on the first floor. There was evidence that defendant lived in the house and that the remaining bedrooms were used in the operation of a house of ill fame. Two former patrons testified that on the above date defendant had answered their knock at the door and admitted them. One of them had sexual relations in a basement bedroom with a person other than the defendant. When they departed, defendant let them out the door. The men testified that they had each patronized the house on about twenty prior occasions and had sexual relations with various prostitutes.

Sumpter argues that the State totally failed to prove that the defendant was a female person, as required by the above statute. We agree.

The statute begins, 'Any female . . .', thus making proof that defendant was a female, an essential element.

The defendant did not take the stand and there was no testimony, lay or expert, as to defendant's sex.

The State argues that Howard v. State (1971), Ind., 272 N.E.2d 870, which also involved a conviction under Burns 10-4220, is dispositive of this issue. The court in Howard observed:

'State's witness, Police Matron Carline Davenport, testified that after appellant was arrested that she had searched the appellant, partially disrobed. She further testified that in her capacity as police matron she had seen the appellant in various stages of undress, and that in her opinion the appellant was a female person. Such evidence, uncontradicted is clearly sufficient to sustain the finding of the trial court. We also note that the appellant's counsel as well as the prosecutor and each witness referred to the appellant as 'her' or 'she' indicating their belief that the appellant was a female person. Finally, the judge, as the trier of fact, had ample opportunity to observe the appellant throughout the trial. We believe the evidence more than ample to support the finding of the trial court that the appellant is a female person.' (Our emphasis.)

In the case at bar there is no uncontradicted direct evidence of defendant's sex. However, as in Howard, there were numerous references to defendant as 'she' or 'her' and defendant was present in the court room throughout the trial.

The State maintains that Howard holds that anyone of the above categories of evidence is sufficient proof of sex.

A careful reading of Howard reveals that direct, lay-opinion evidence...

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5 cases
  • Sumpter v. DeGroote
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit
    • April 1, 1977
    ...neglected to present any evidence that Sumpter was a female, an essential element of the crime set out in the statute. Sumpter v. State, Ind.App., 296 N.E.2d 131 (1973). The State appealed, and the Indiana Supreme Court reversed. Although noting that the court of appeals had "correctly appl......
  • Smith v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • August 7, 1975 unreasonable. Sturrup v. Mahan (1974), Ind., 305 N.E.2d 877; Chaffin v. Nicosia (1974), Ind., 310 N.E.2d 867; Sumpter v. State (1974), Ind., 296 N.E.2d 131. Faced with a statute which is exact on its face in the determination of the offense and the punishment, Smith must demonstrate how ......
  • Sumpter v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • January 28, 1976
    ...this conviction was reversed because the record contained '. . . no direct evidence of appellant's sex . . ..' Sumpter v. State (1973), Ind.App., 296 N.E.2d 131, 133. We accepted the state's petition to transfer the matter to this Court and modified the Indiana common law rule on proof of s......
  • Sumpter v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • January 22, 1974
    ...Appeals reversed, holding that the prosecution failed to prove that the defendant was a female--a required element of the crime charged. 296 N.E.2d 131. We believe the Court of Appeals correctly applied existing law when it reversed the trial court. However, we also believe that the existin......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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