Varcadipane v. State, 22A-CR-1035

Citation22A-CR-1035
Case DateSeptember 22, 2022
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Leonard Varcadipane, Appellant-Defendant,
v.

State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

No. 22A-CR-1035

Court of Appeals of Indiana

September 22, 2022


Pursuant to Ind. Appellate Rule 65(D), this Memorandum Decision shall not be regarded as precedent or cited before any court except for the purpose of establishing the defense of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or the law of the case.

Appeal from the La Porte Superior Court The Honorable Richard R. Stalbrink, Jr., Judge Trial Court Cause No. 46D02-1910-F3-1399

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT David P. Jones Newby, Lewis, Kaminski & Jones, LLP La Porte, Indiana

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Theodore E. Rokita Attorney General of Indiana Evan Matthew Comer Deputy Attorney General Alexa Rojas Certified Legal Intern Indianapolis, Indiana

MEMORANDUM DECISION

WEISSMANN, JUDGE.

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[¶1] To settle a prison debt, Leonard Varcadipane threw a mystery liquid at a correctional officer's face. The liquid caused the officer burns, blisters, and eyesight problems. Varcadipane was tried and convicted of aggravated battery. On appeal, he argues that the State failed to prove the officer's injuries justified an aggravated battery conviction. We disagree and affirm.

Facts

[¶2] Izonia Chism, Jr., worked as a correctional officer at the Indiana State Prison. His duties include overseeing a block of prisoners that included Varcadipane. One night, near the end of his shift, Officer Chism heard an inmate behind him say his name. As Officer Chism turned around, the inmate threw a hot liquid at his face and ran away. The liquid splashed onto Officer Chism's face and neck and then landed on his right forearm when he tried to wipe it off.

[¶3] Although the liquid first felt only warm, it quickly transformed into a burning sensation. Immediately, with his face beginning to swell and his vision fading, Officer Chism was rushed to a prison medical services unit. He later received further treatment at a local hospital for the burns and blisters that rapidly developed. The blisters took between two weeks and a month to heal and, along with the burn marks, left behind visible scarring. Tr. Vol. II, p. 28; Exs. 1-8. Officer Chism still suffers from vision problems, which multiple doctor's visits have been unable to fix. Id. at 19-20.

[¶4] Prison officials quickly detained Varcadipane as a suspect in the attack. In an interview with the prison's investigator, Varcadipane admitted that he threw the

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liquid and specifically targeted Officer Chism. When asked to identify the mystery liquid, Varcadipane maintained it was only water and honey. He denied mixing in bleach or other chemicals but suggested that black paint on his hands may have made its way into the liquid. Varcadipane stated he threw the liquid at Officer Chism to settle a debt owed to another inmate, though prison investigators never identified any accomplices.

[¶5] The State charged Varcadipane with aggravated battery, a Level 3 felony. After finding Varcadipane guilty in a bench trial, the trial court sentenced him to nine years imprisonment, with the last three years suspended to probation.

Analysis & Discussion

[¶6] On appeal, Varcadipane contends the State failed to prove the elements of aggravated battery beyond a reasonable doubt. The relevant elements of aggravated battery are straightforward. The State must prove that the defendant "knowingly or intentionally inflict[ed] injury on a person that create[d] a substantial risk of death or causes: (1) serious permanent disfigurement; [or] (2) protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ." Ind. Code § 35-42-2-1.5. Varcadipane concedes he acted knowingly and intentionally. And the State makes no argument on appeal that Officer Chism ever faced a substantial risk of death. Thus, Varcadipane must show the State failed to prove that Officer Chism suffered either serious permanent disfigurement or the protracted loss or impairment of a bodily organ.

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[¶7] The standard of review for sufficiency of the evidence claims is well settled. "When reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence needed to support a criminal conviction, we neither reweigh evidence nor judge witness credibility." Bailey v. State, 907 N.E.2d 1003, 1005 (Ind. 2009). "We consider only the evidence supporting the judgment and any reasonable inferences that can be drawn from such evidence." Henley v. State, 881 N.E.2d 639, 652 (Ind. 2008). And "[w]e will affirm if there is substantial evidence of probative value such that a reasonable trier of fact could have concluded the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." Bailey, 907 N.E.2d at 1005.

Serious Permanent Disfigurement

[¶8] Sufficient evidence shows that Officer Chism suffered serious permanent disfigurement. Although the legislature has never supplied a definition of the term, this Court has long defined a serious permanent disfigurement as an...

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