Sweeney v. State, 10S00-9603-CR-231

CourtSupreme Court of Indiana
Citation704 N.E.2d 86
Docket NumberNo. 10S00-9603-CR-231,10S00-9603-CR-231
PartiesCharles Edward SWEENEY, Jr., Appellant (Defendant below), v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff below).
Decision Date18 December 1998

John L. Davis, Bonnie K. Wooten, Pritzke & Davis, Greenfield, for Appellant.

Jeffrey A. Modisett, Attorney General, Cynthia L. Ploughe, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, for Appellee.

SULLIVAN, Justice.

Defendant Charles Edward Sweeney, Jr., appeals his conviction for Murder. 1 Defendant was sentenced to 60 years. We have jurisdiction over this direct appeal because the longest single sentence exceeds 50 years. Ind. Const. art. VII, § 4; Ind.Appellate Rule 4(A)(7). We affirm defendant's conviction and sentence.


On May 28, 1991, the victim, Danny Guthrie, left his family to go fishing with defendant. Guthrie did not return home that evening and his wife assumed that he decided to camp over with defendant. The next morning defendant called to see if Guthrie wanted to check the trout lines. Guthrie's wife informed the defendant that Guthrie never returned home and the defendant told Guthrie's wife that he brought Guthrie home between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. the previous day. After several unsuccessful attempts to obtain more information from defendant, Guthrie's wife called the police. On May 29, 1991, Detective Kramer, the lead investigator, and other police officers questioned the defendant at his home. However, no arrest was made and Guthrie remained missing.

In February, 1992, defendant was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for placing a pipe bomb under Detective Kramer's police car. 2 After being charged for these offenses, defendant entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office on June 26, 1992. Pursuant to the plea agreement, defendant pled guilty to placing the bomb under Kramer's car, agreed to implicate all others involved in the bombing and also to disclose the whereabout of Guthrie's body and any information relating to the cause of Guthrie's death. 3 We summarize defendant's story as communicated to federal authorities as follows. 4

According to defendant, on the return trip from the fishing expedition, defendant agreed to give Guthrie approximately 150 marijuana plants in exchange for a saddle. Immediately after arriving at defendant's home, defendant explained to Guthrie where the marijuana plants were located and provided Guthrie with a shovel, two buckets, and a 9 mm gun for protection. Defendant claimed that he then went to play bingo at the Sellersburg Moose Lodge and did not see Guthrie again that evening. 5 The next day (May 29, 1991), after Guthrie's wife claimed that Guthrie never came home, defendant alleges that he went to look for Guthrie and found him dead with a gunshot wound to the head. He also found the 9mm gun that he had given Guthrie the day before with one round missing and an empty shell casing a foot or two south of Guthrie's body. Because defendant did not want the police to discover the marijuana, he dragged Guthrie's body to a ditch located behind a trailer and buried the body with sweet lime and covered it with dirt and trash. He then threw the shell casings in a creek, and placed one shoe 6 and a pair of sunglasses in the burn barrel by his trailer. Defendant also buried the gun in an ammunition can near his home, but at a later date retrieved the gun and had it in his possession for personal protection. Defendant told the authorities that eventually the gun was seized from him in the State of Utah as a result of a routine traffic violation. At all times, defendant proclaimed his innocence. 7

On July 1, 1992, the police obtained a search warrant for defendant's property and located Guthrie's body in the area described by defendant. An autopsy was performed on the body on July 2, 1992, and the medical examiner positively identified the body as that of Daniel Guthrie. The examiner also retrieved the bullet that caused Guthrie's death. The bullet and the 9mm gun that was confiscated from defendant by a Utah police officer was sent to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm Laboratory. The Bureau confirmed that the bullet that killed Guthrie had been fired from the 9mm gun belonging to the defendant.

On August 10, 1992, Judge Donahue in the Clark Circuit Court issued a warrant to arrest the defendant for the murder of Guthrie. On October, 8, 1992, upon the State's request, Judge Donahue issued a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum (a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum is referred to in this opinion as a "Writ") so that the State could obtain temporary custody of defendant. At that time, defendant was incarcerated in federal prison in Louisville, Kentucky 8 and was scheduled to be sentenced that very same day by Judge Barker in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. 9 The defendant was transported to Clark County shortly after the Writ was issued. On October 22, 1992, defendant filed a Motion to Quash the Writ and a hearing was held on the motion on November 10, 1992. The focus of the hearing concerned whether the State had jurisdiction over the defendant. Defendant argued that before he was sentenced in federal court, the State could have sought temporary custody of him through the use of the Writ, but once defendant was sentenced, the State was obligated to follow the procedures set forth in the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (referred to in this opinion as the "IAD"). 10 In order to avoid conducting a trial and then having a higher court decide that the trial court had no jurisdiction over defendant, Judge Donahue decided that the safer approach would be to return defendant to federal prison and proceed appropriately. Consequently, Judge Donahue granted defendant's motion and ordered that the Writ be held for naught and declared void.

On April 22, 1993, the State dismissed charges against the defendant, and defendant was sent back to federal prison in Kentucky. The State refiled charges on March 30, 1994. On August 1, 1994, upon the State's request, Judge Donahue granted another writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum so that the State could obtain temporary custody of defendant. At this time, defendant was being held at the Federal Correctional Institution in Manchester, Kentucky. For the second time, defendant was transported to Clark County. In response, defendant filed a Motion to Quash the Writ on September 13, 1994, and on October 3, 1994, Judge Donahue held a hearing on this matter. Once again, defendant contended that the IAD was the exclusive means of obtaining temporary custody of defendant. Additionally, defendant argued that the circumstances surrounding the issuance of both Writs were identical and that because the issue had been litigated, the doctrine of res judicata and collateral estoppel applied. Judge Donahue denied defendant's Motion to Quash the Writ, relying on the fact that defendant's custody status had changed since the first Writ was issued.

A jury trial was conducted on November 14, 1995, and defendant was found guilty the murder of Guthrie. The trial court sentenced defendant to 60 years to be served upon the completion of his federal sentence of 210 months.

Additional facts will be provided as necessary.


Defendant raises the following claims on appeal: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to quash the second writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum; (2) defendant was denied his statutory and constitutional right to a speedy trial; (3) the trial court erred in refusing to suppress defendant's pre-trial statements; (4) the trial court erred in denying defendant's motion to suppress the handgun; (5) defendant was denied the right to cross-examine witnesses; (6) the trial court erred in denying the defendant credit time for pre-trial detention; (7) the trial court failed to articulate the reasons for sentencing defendant to a term of years consecutive with his federal sentence and used an improper factor to enhance defendant's sentence; (8) the trial court refused to admit certain statements provided by defendant; (9) the trial court refused to allow testimony concerning other possible reasons for the death of the victim; and (10) the State failed to establish the corpus delicti for the Murder.


Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to quash the second Writ. As discussed in Background supra, defendant's motion to quash the first Writ was granted. In defendant's motion to quash the second Writ issued against him, defendant argued that because both the first and second Writs were identical, the issue had been litigated in the hearing on the first Writ. As such, the doctrine of res judicata applied to bar enforcement of the second Writ. We disagree with defendant.

"The principle of res judicata prevents the repetitious litigation of that which is essentially the same dispute." Wagle v. Henry, 679 N.E.2d 1002, 1005 (Ind.Ct.App.1997) (citing Scott v. Scott, 668 N.E.2d 691, 699 (Ind.Ct.App.1996)). "For principles of res judicata to apply, there must have been a final judgment on the merits and that judgment must have been entered by a court of competent jurisdiction." Matter of Sheaffer, 655 N.E.2d 1214, 1217 (Ind.1995). 11

In his motion to quash the first Writ, defendant argued that the IAD provided the exclusive means by which the State could secure his presence for trial and that a Writ was not available for this purpose. Our statute authorizing Writs provides that it may be used to seek the presence for criminal trial in state court of a defendant "who is confined in a federal prison." Ind.Code § 35-33-10-5. The record indicates that at the time the first Writ was issued, defendant had not yet been sentenced on federal charges and was being held on behalf of federal authorities in a Kentucky state correctional facility. Our review of the record indicates that the trial court concluded that,...

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