Williams v. State, No. 1-880A220

Docket NºNo. 1-880A220
Citation415 N.E.2d 118
Case DateJanuary 27, 1981
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Page 118

415 N.E.2d 118
Ivery Lee WILLIAMS, Defendant-Appellant,
v.
STATE of Indiana, Plaintiff-Appellee.
No. 1-880A220.
Court of Appeals of Indiana, First District.
Jan. 27, 1981.

Douglas W. Meyer, Elmendorf & Meyer, Plainfield, for defendant-appellant.

Linley E. Pearson, Theodore L. Sendak, Attys. Gen., Palmer K. Ward, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for plaintiff-appellee.

NEAL, Presiding Judge.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

This is an appeal from the Hendricks Superior Court No. 2 by defendant-appellant Ivery Lee Williams (Williams) from a conviction by the court of criminal recklessness, Ind.Code 35-42-2-2(b) (Supp.1979), and leaving the scene of an accident, Ind.Code 9-4-1-40(b) (Supp.1979).

We affirm.

Page 119

STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

On August 25, 1979, at approximately 12:30 p. m., Phillip J. Ertel, an adult, was riding a bicycle west on Indiana Highway 36. He was traveling along the right-hand side and near the outer edge of the road. The weather was clear and visibility, at the scene of the accident, was good. At a point about one and one-half miles west of New Winchster in Hendricks County, Ertel was struck from behind by a vehicle. He was stunned and seriously injured; he could not remember the impact; he did not see the vehicle or its driver, as it did not stop. Ertel was found by motorists in a badly bruised condition on the right-hand side of the road. His left arm and the left side of his torso were injured; a gash in his left leg required twenty-three stitches. He was hospitalized and missed a week of work. A wing mirror (side-mounted, rear-view) and parts of its hanger were found in the road at the scene of Ertel's injury.

Later that afternoon, Jerry Clinger, Town Marshall of Bainbridge, Putnam County, Indiana, discovered Williams about thirteen or fourteen miles west of the scene of the accident on Highway 36, passed out or asleep in a 1963 Chevrolet pickup truck. The truck was registered to Williams. After arousing Williams, the officers advised him of his Miranda rights. Upon questioning Williams informed them that he had been driving the truck since 7:00 a. m. and that he had driven down Highway 36 moving furniture from Tipton through Indianapolis. A chemical analysis for blood alcohol content registered .37 percent; the officers further testified as to his inebriated condition and his inability to walk unaided. Officers identified the mirror found in the road as belonging to Williams's truck.

ISSUES

The issues presented for consideration are as follows:

I. Whether the trial court erred in admitting Williams's incriminating statements that he was driving the vehicle; whether Williams was knowingly advised of his constitutional rights; and whether Williams knowingly waived such constitutional rights against self-incrimination;

II. Whether the evidence was sufficient to support a finding of guilt on each charge.

DISCUSSION AND DECISION

Issue I. Admission of incriminating statements

At trial Williams objected to the admission of his statements that he was driving the truck on the basis that he was in such a drunken condition that it was impossible for him to have knowingly waived his Miranda rights. The Supreme Court of Indiana set forth the standard for determining admissibility of confessions in Harrison v. State, (1978) Ind., 382 N.E.2d 920, 923-924, as follows:

"The question of the admissibility of a confession is controlled by determining, from the totality of circumstances, whether or not it was made voluntarily. The circumstances to be considered include whether the confession was freely self-determined, the product of a rational intellect and free will, without compulsion or inducement, and whether the accused's will was overborne.... We review the question on appeal as we do other sufficiency matters. We do not weigh the evidence, but rather determine whether there was substantial probative evidence to support the trial court's finding.... We will not disturb a trial court's ruling on the admissibility of a confession when such ruling is based on substantial though conflicting evidence...." (Citations omitted.)

The same test determines whether a valid waiver of Miranda rights has occurred. Chambers v. State, (1979) Ind., 392 N.E.2d 1156.

At trial the court conducted a hearing on the admissibility of the statements. Officer Clinger's testimony was the only evidence introduced on this matter. He stated that Williams was either asleep or passed out in the truck. It took Clinger about two minutes to bring Williams to consciousness by

Page 120

shaking him. Williams was unable to walk unaided. Three or four minutes elapsed before questions were posed to him. In response to the trial court's question, "Did the defendant understand what you were saying to him?", Officer Clinger stated, "I believe he did."

Applying our standard of review we cannot say that the trial court erred in admitting the incriminating statements.

Issue II. Sufficiency of the evidence

Williams asserts that the sole link between himself and the accident is the mirror found in the road at the scene. He argues that insomuch as there were no traces of blood, hair, cloth, or paint on the mirror further connecting it to the accident or the injuries, the evidence is insufficient to sustain either of the convictions.

The evidence connecting Williams's truck to the accident is circumstantial in nature. Our standard of review in determining the adequacy of such evidence to sustain a conviction was set forth in Glover v. State, (1973) 157 Ind.App. 532, 300 N.E.2d 902.

"This Court will not weigh the evidence nor determine questions concerning the credibility of witnesses when reviewing the evidence. We will look only to that evidence most favorable to the State and the reasonable inferences therefrom. A conviction will be affirmed when there is substantial evidence of probative value from which the trier of fact could reasonably infer that Mary K. Glover was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Walker v. State (1973), 155 Ind.App. 404, 293 N.E.2d 35.

It is well established that a conviction may be supported by circumstantial evidence. Walker v. State, supra; Miller v. State (1972), 153 Ind.App. 54, 285 N.E.2d 843; Vaughn v. State (1971), 255 Ind. 678, 266 N.E.2d 219. The specific test for the examination of circumstantial evidence has been recently restated by our Supreme Court in McAfee v. State (1973), 259 Ind. 687, 291 N.E.2d 554, 556:

'Where the sufficiency of circumstantial evidence is in question, we examine it carefully, not for the purpose of finding whether or not it is adequate to overcome every reasonable hypothesis of innocence, but with the view of deciding whether an inference may be reasonably drawn therefrom tending to support the finding of the trial court. Stice v. State (1950), 228 Ind. 144, 89 N.E.2d 915; Petillo v. State (1950), 228 Ind. 97, 82 N.E.2d 623.' See also Finger v. State (1973), 260 Ind. 148, 293 N.E.2d 25; Walker v. State, supra; Haynes v. State (1973), 155 Ind.App. 472, 293 N.E.2d 204.

Therefore, the task before this Court is to determine whether the circumstantial evidence and reasonable inferences drawn therefrom are insufficient as a matter of law."

157 Ind.App. at 536, 300 N.E.2d 902. Williams correctly cites Dunn v. State, (1973) 260 Ind. 142, 293 N.E.2d 32, for the proposition that mere suspicion or opportunity is insufficient to sustain a conviction. However, physical evidence, such as damage to the automobile, glass at the scene, missing door handle found at the scene, together with other evidence, have been held sufficient to connect a vehicle to a collision. Dalton v. State, (1952) 230 Ind. 626, 105 N.E.2d 509; Runyon v. State, (1941) 219 Ind. 352, 38 N.E.2d 235.

The evidence discloses that Williams, in a highly intoxicated condition, .37 percent chemical analysis, drove past the scene of the accident on Highway 36 on the day in question and within the time frame of the accident. The right wing mirror and supports off of his truck were found at the scene. Ertel was not struck by something so heavy as to crush his body, such as an automobile, but by something substantial yet possessing an elastic or break-away quality, such as a wing mirror held onto the body of a truck with small bolts. This evidence, although circumstantial, supports the justifiable inference of Williams's guilt. While substantial evidence means more than "seemingly or imaginary," Finch v. State, (1967) 249 Ind. 122, 231 N.E.2d 45, a decision upon which reasonable men might

Page 121

differ will not be set aside. McAfee v. State, (1973) 259 Ind. 687, 291 N.E.2d 554. The record is devoid of any facts that would justify an inference other than that the mirror got into the road by virtue of having struck something, namely Ertel, and thereby having been knocked off. We are of the opinion that the circumstantial evidence presented here reasonably warrants an inference of the guilt of Williams.

Williams's second sufficiency of the evidence argument is directed to the criminal recklessness conviction under Ind.Code 35-42-2-2(b) (Supp.1979). That section defines the offense as follows:

"A person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally inflicts serious bodily injury on another person commits criminal recklessness, a Class D felony."

Ind.Code 35-41-2-2(c) (Supp.1979) defines "recklessly" as follows:

"A person engages in conduct 'recklessly' if he engages in the conduct in plain, conscious, and unjustifiable disregard of harm that might result and the disregard involves a substantial deviation from acceptable standards of conduct."

Williams contends that even if he did strike Ertel with his truck while in a state of intoxication, there would not be sufficient evidence to prove he recklessly inflicted bodily injury on another person. In support of this argument he cites DeVaney v. State, (1972) 259 Ind. 483, 288 N.E.2d 732, Hardesty v. State, (1967) 249 Ind. 518, 231 N.E.2d 510, and Johnson v....

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2 practice notes
  • McGary v. State, No. 1-1080A272
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • June 17, 1981
    ...to support a finding of each necessary Page 752 element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Williams v. State, (1981) Ind.App., 415 N.E.2d 118 (trans. pending); Runyon v. State, (1941) 219 Ind. 352, 38 N.E.2d 235. We believe the facts of this case are clearly distinguishable from Floy......
  • Williams v. State, No. 781S192
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • July 22, 1981
    ...criminal case is before us on a petition to transfer from the Court of Appeals, First District. The opinion of that court is reported at 415 N.E.2d 118. We grant the petition for transfer and vacate the opinion Appellant Williams was convicted in a trial to the court of criminal recklessnes......
2 cases
  • McGary v. State, No. 1-1080A272
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • June 17, 1981
    ...to support a finding of each necessary Page 752 element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Williams v. State, (1981) Ind.App., 415 N.E.2d 118 (trans. pending); Runyon v. State, (1941) 219 Ind. 352, 38 N.E.2d 235. We believe the facts of this case are clearly distinguishable from Floy......
  • Williams v. State, No. 781S192
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • July 22, 1981
    ...criminal case is before us on a petition to transfer from the Court of Appeals, First District. The opinion of that court is reported at 415 N.E.2d 118. We grant the petition for transfer and vacate the opinion Appellant Williams was convicted in a trial to the court of criminal recklessnes......

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