Williams v. State, 284S68

Decision Date29 August 1985
Docket NumberNo. 284S68,284S68
Citation481 N.E.2d 1319
PartiesLeroy WILLIAMS, Appellant (Defendant Below), v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff Below).
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

Jack E. Roebel, Allen County Deputy Public Defender, Fort Wayne, for appellant.

Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen., Louis E. Ransdell, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

PRENTICE, Justice.

Following a jury trial Defendant (Appellant) was convicted of burglary, a class B felony, Ind.Code Sec. 35-43-2-1 (Burns 1984 Cum.Supp.). He was sentenced to an enhanced term of fifteen (15) years imprisonment.

This direct appeal presents four (4) issues:

(1) Whether the trial court erred in admitting evidence that Defendant had committed another burglary the same evening.

(2) Whether the trial court erred in refusing Defendant's tendered Instruction No. 4 concerning the weighing of confessions and admissions.

(3) Whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain the conviction.

(4) Whether the enhanced sentence is manifestly unreasonable. We find no reversible error and affirm the conviction and sentence.

The evidence most favorable to the State revealed that 74-year-old Mabel Carpenter was preparing to retire when she heard glass breaking in the downstairs area of her home. She believed someone was breaking in and called police, who arrived almost immediately and arrested Defendant inside her home; however, Defendant had nothing from the home in his possession, nor had anything been removed or moved about. Shortly thereafter, the police After being advised of his right not to make a statement, Defendant told the officers that he had taken the television during the burglary of another home in the area earlier that evening. He also suggested to the officers that he would help them with narcotics investigations if they would release him. Other facts are stated below.

discovered a television beside a garbage can at the rear of a residence located five houses north of the Carpenter home.

ISSUE I

Defendant contends that the trial court committed reversible error when it admitted into evidence testimony that Defendant had taken the aforementioned television set during the aforementioned earlier burglary. Defendant argues that this evidence of a prior crime was not admissible because the State did not establish that the television was taken during a burglary committed by use of a modus operandi similar to that employed to commit the charged crime. We find no error.

As a general rule, evidence of a defendant's other crimes is irrelevant and highly prejudicial and therefore not admissible. However, such evidence may be admissible to identify the defendant as the perpetrator of the crime, to establish his knowledge, intent or motive, or to demonstrate that the charged crime was part of a common scheme or plan of criminal activity. See, e.g., Sizemore v. State (1985), Ind., 480 N.E.2d 215, 217.

Defendant's argument focuses upon the 'common scheme or plan' exception. He correctly argues that under our cases, the State, in order to demonstrate that the charged crime was part of a common scheme or plan of criminal activity, must establish that the manner of committing each crime in the series was so unusual or distinctive as to be like a "signature." This exception recognizes that when the means used to commit the previous crime were nearly identical to the means used to commit the charged crime, evidence of the prior crime tends to establish that the same person committed both and is thus relevant to prove the identity of the perpetrator. See generally, Hobbs v. State (1984), Ind., 466 N.E.2d 729.

However, in other cases our courts have upheld the admission of evidence of prior crime to show a defendant's intent or motive without requiring a showing that the means used to commit the prior crime were virtually identical to the means used to commit the charged crime. Cf., Watkins v. State (1983), Ind., 446 N.E.2d 949, 962 (defendant's prior shooting at intended victim admissible to establish defendant's motive for subsequent murder of person defendant mistook for intended victim). This is particularly true where, as here, there is no substantial question that the defendant committed the acts which led to the charge, but rather the issue is the defendant's motive or criminal intent. See, Anderson v. State (1933), 205 Ind. 607, 617-620, 186 N.E. 316, 320-21 (evidence of prior, dissimilar crime admissible to establish defendant's motive for shooting sheriff whom defendant believed was pursuing him for the prior crime). Of course, the exceptions allowing introduction of evidence of prior crimes may overlap somewhat from case to case. Hence, in Feyerchak v. State (1978), 270 Ind. 153, 155-56, 383 N.E.2d 1027, 1028, this Court upheld admission of evidence that a defendant charged with robbery had utilized a very similar modus operandi during a prior robbery in the same area to show the defendant's criminal intent during the second episode.

In this case the evidence that Defendant had admitted to the arresting officers that he had taken the television during a prior burglary the same evening was admissible to establish his intent to commit theft when he broke into the victim's home. We find no error in admission of this evidence.

ISSUE II

Defendant next claims that the trial court erred in refusing to give his tendered Instruction No. 4 to the jury. We initially note that in evaluating a claim of error

predicated on the refusal of an instruction we determine:

1. Whether the tendered instruction stated the law correctly.

2. Whether there was evidence to render the instruction applicable to the issues.

3. Whether the subject matter of the tendered instruction was covered by other instructions given by the trial court.

E.g., Harlan v. State (1985), Ind., 479 N.E.2d 569, 570-71. In this case, a portion of the instruction was not relevant under the evidence, and it, therefore, was properly refused.

Defendant tendered his Instruction No. 4 as one instruction that actually incorporated two instructions from the Ind. Pattern Jury Instructions (Criminal), stating that evidence had been presented that Defendant had made admissions of fact relating to the crime charged and advising the jury as to its responsibility and perogative to consider such evidence, but also stating that evidence had been presented that Defendant had confessed to the crime charged, and advising the jury of its authority to consider a confession. The instruction was properly refused, inasmuch as there had been no evidence presented that Defendant had confessed to the crime charged. From this point of view, the instruction could have been far more detrimental than beneficial to the Defendant.

There was evidence presented that Defendant had made an admission detrimental to his interests--that he had taken the television set during a previous burglary committed earlier the same evening--and thus the part of the instruction relating to how admissions should be received and considered was proper. However, being offered as one instruction, and, in part mistating the evidence, it was properly refused.

ISSUE III

Defendant contends that the evidence presented by the State was not sufficient to sustain the verdict. Specifically, he argues that the State failed to prove that he had the requisite felonious intent when he entered the victim's home.

This claim is governed by the following standard of review:

"Upon a review for sufficient evidence, this Court will look only to the evidence most favorable to the State and all reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom. If the existence of each element of the crime charged may be found therefrom, beyond a reasonable doubt, the verdict will not be disturbed. In such a review, we will not weigh conflicting evidence nor will we judge the credibility of the witnesses." (Citations omitted.)

Loyd v. State (1980), 272 Ind. 404, 407, 398 N.E.2d 1260, 1264, cert. denied 449 U.S. 881, 101 S.Ct. 231, 66 L.Ed.2d 105.

Ind.Code Sec. 35-43-2-1 generally defines burglary as the breaking and entering of the building or structure of another with intent to commit a felony therein. In this case Defendant was charged with breaking and entering the victim's dwelling with intent to commit theft, i.e. the deprivation of any part of the value or use of the victim's property, a class D felony under Ind.Code Sec. 35-43-4-2 (Burns 1984 Cum.Supp.).

Defendant does not deny that he committed a "breaking", but claims instead that the State failed to establish that he intended to commit theft when he entered the home. He emphasizes that none of the victim's belongings were disturbed. Defendant points to considerable testimony in the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
12 cases
  • Hahn v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • February 8, 1989
    ...in possession of defendant); Dziepak v. State (1985) Ind., 483 N.E.2d 449 (residence ransacked and money missing); Williams v. State (1985) Ind., 481 N.E.2d 1319 (defendant broke and entered but when arrested had nothing from the residence in his possession nor had anything been removed or ......
  • Buie v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • April 11, 1994
    ...issues tried; and 3) whether other instructions actually given cover the subject matter of the tendered instruction. Williams v. State (1985), Ind., 481 N.E.2d 1319, 1322. We agree with Buie that his tendered Instruction No. 3 is at least arguably a correct statement of the law. See INDIANA......
  • Baird v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • December 1, 1992
    ...of the instruction, and whether the substance of the instruction is covered by other instructions which are given. Williams v. State (1985), Ind., 481 N.E.2d 1319. Appellant first claims that the trial court committed error in refusing his Tendered Final Instruction No. 10, an instruction o......
  • Burch v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • December 30, 1985
    ...is charged is irrelevant and highly prejudicial and, therefore, inadmissible on the issue of the defendant's guilt. Williams v. State (1985), Ind., 481 N.E.2d 1319, 1321; Malone v. State (1982), Ind., 441 N.E.2d 1339, 1345; Willis v. State (1978), 268 Ind. 269, 272, 374 N.E.2d 520, 522; Big......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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