Woods v. State, No. 2--1173A250

Docket NºNo. 2--1173A250
Citation162 Ind.App. 316, 319 N.E.2d 688
Case DateDecember 09, 1974
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Page 688

319 N.E.2d 688
162 Ind.App. 316
James E. WOODS, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee.
No. 2--1173A250.
Court of Appeals of Indiana, Second District.
Dec. 9, 1974.
Rehearing Denied Jan. 15, 1975.

[162 Ind.App. 317]

Page 689

Frank E. Spencer, Indianapolis, for appellant.

Theodore L. Sendak, Atty. Gen., John H. Meyers, Deputy Atty. Gen., for appellee.

SULLIVAN, Presiding Judge.

Woods pleaded not guilty to a charge of first degree murder. Following trial by jury he was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and on July 27, 1972 was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for not less than two nor more than twenty-one years. This belated appeal followed, pursuant to Indiana Rules of Procedure, P.C. 2.

Woods presents three questions for our determination:

(1) Whether there was sufficient evidence to support the verdict and judgment in light of Woods' evidence concerning self-defense.

(2) Whether the court erred in refusing three instructions tendered by Woods concerning self-defense.

Page 690

(3) Whether the court erred prejudicially in requiring a defense witness to name the father of her child.

I

VOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER CONVICTION NOT ERRONEOUS DESPITE EVIDENCE OF SELF-DEFENSE

Woods contends that his conviction is contrary to law in that he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Rudolph Coleman. The facts reveal that Woods was acquainted with Debra Caine and had argued with her on more than one occasion prior to Christmas night 1971. On that night, Woods, Susan Schuller and Edward Thomas, all of whom shared the same residence, returned home after delivering Christmas presents. Debra Caine had made numerous telephone calls to Woods' residence on the 25th. Woods himself had two conversation with her that night, thereafter becoming quite agitated. It was elicited from Susan Schuller and Edward [162 Ind.App. 318] Thomas that after the telephone altercations with Debra and his indication of extreme displeasure with her, Woods threatened to 'kick her (Debra's) butt'. Fred Pruitt who was also present, stated that Woods said that he was 'going to get her'. Thereupon, and after arming himself with a sawed-off shotgun, Woods, accompanied by Susan Schuller, drove to Debra's residence. During this time, Pruitt telephoned Debra Caine and warned her of Woods' ensuing arrival and that he had a gun.

After knocking on the door, Woods was met by the deceased, Rudolph Coleman, who was then living with Debra. While Woods, from the patio-like porch, carried on an argumentative conversation with Debra who was inside the house, Coleman, standing in the doorway, held a machete so that it was not observed by Woods. Woods had secreted the sawed-off shotgun beneath his jacket by a shoulder sling with the barrel protruding into the back of his trousers. Debra testified that Woods' hands were behind him during the conversation. She stated that after Woods admonished her not to make further telephone calls, she heard a click (thereafter equated with the clicking sound made during an in-court demonstration of the shotgun) and that she saw Coleman step forward toward Woods. When Debra heard the click, she turned and ran seeking protection behind a couch from where she heard but did not witness Woods fire the fatal shotgun blast into Coleman's face.

Woods suffered a severe head wound inflicted by Coleman and following the shooting, Susan Schuller drove Woods to the hospital for treatment. The trip was interrupted at the request of Woods so that he could throw the shotgun from a bridge at College Avenue and Fall Creek in Indianapolis, from which location it was recovered by police.

Woods' entire argument with respect to sufficiency of the evidence is founded upon the proposition that he was merely conversing with Debra Caine when, for no reason, he was savagely attacked by Coleman. It is his contention that after [162 Ind.App. 319] being struck and knocked to the ground, he shot and killed Coleman in self-defense.

Woods relies upon Banks v. State (1971), 257 Ind. 530, 276 N.E.2d 155 in which a voluntary manslaughter conviction was reversed. In that case, as in subsequent decisions of this court, (e.g., Woods v. State (1973), Ind.App., 304 N.E.2d 817) the factors to be considered in determining the sufficiency of evidence to rebut a claim of self-defense are set forth as drawn from King v. State (1968), 249 Ind. 699, 705, 234 N.E.2d 465, 468:

'Where one has taken the life of another human being, and thereafter contends that he did so in self-defense, he can only be successful in his contention if:

(1) he acted without fault,

Page 691

(2) he was in a place where he had a right to be, and

(3) he was in real danger of death or great bodily harm, or in such apparent danger as caused him in good faith to fear death or great bodily harm.

Bullard v. State (1964), 245 Ind. 190, 195 N.E.2d 856, 197 N.E.2d 295; Hightire v. State (1966), (247) Ind. (164), 213 N.E.2d 707. The burden is upon the State to show that defendant does not meet one or more of these requirements. Dorak v. State (1915), 183 Ind. 622, 109 N.E. 771. Whether the State has borne its burden of showing that the homicidal act was not carried out in self-defense is a question of ultimate fact to be decided by the jury. Robinson v. State (1962), 243 Ind. 192, 184 N.E.2d 16. After the jury has made this determination in favor of the State and against the defendant, this Court, on appeal:

'. . . has upon it a duty to consider, not to weigh, the evidence in the case for the purpose of determining whether there is any substantial evidence of probative value from which a jury reasonably could have inferred that the appellant was guilty of the offense charged'.

Robinson v. State, supra, 243 Ind. at 197, 184 N.E.2d at 18. See also Easton v. State (1967) (248) Ind. (338), 228 N.E.2d 6; Baker v. State (1956), 236 Ind. 55, 138 N.E.2d 641.'

The reversal in Banks, supra, hinged upon a determination that the defendant was at a place where he had a right to be, and that there was no evidence to support a finding or a [162 Ind.App. 320] reasonable inference that the defendant provoked or instigated the fight or voluntarily took part in it.

Woods understandably emphasizes that portion of the evidence in this case which disclosed that the decedent was armed with a machete and that Woods suffered a severe cut on the head from a blow struck by the decedent. He argues that from such evidence the conclusion is inescapable that he killed Coleman in self-defense. While we would agree that the jury might have so found, such conclusion was not mandated as a matter of law. Our case thus differs from Banks v. State, supra.

The jury here no doubt considered the events which led up to Woods' confrontation with Coleman and particularly the fact that Woods armed himself with a sawed-off shotgun in preparation for the anticipated meeting with Debra Caine. These factors when viewed within the framework of all the evidence and in light of the applicable law lead us to hold that the jury was warranted in finding that Woods did not kill in self-defense. The verdict was therefore not inappropriate. Jennings v. State (1974), Ind., 318 N.E.2d 358; Dickens v. State (1973), Ind., 295 N.E.2d 613.

II

COURT DID NOT COMMIT REVERSIBLE ERROR IN REFUSING SPECIFIC SELF-DEFENSE INSTRUCTIONS COVERING REASONABLE DOUBT, INTENT AND BURDEN OF PROOF

Woods asserts that the court erred in refusing to give the following three tendered instructions concerning self-defense:

'Def's. Instruction No. 2.

If you find from all of the evidence that the defendant did kill Rudolph C. Coleman while being assaulted by him, the question of whether or not the circumstances justified defendant in killing his assailant is for you to determine, and if a reasonable doubt exists as to whether or not defendant acted in justifiable self-defense he is entitled to be acquitted.

[162 Ind.App. 321] Bohan v. State, 194 Ind. 227, 141 N.E. 323

Page 692

Dorak v. State, 183 Ind. 622, 109 N.E. 711

Clark v. State, 59 Ind. 60, 64 N.E. 589'

'Def's. Instruction No. 3.

You are instructed that while intent is an element of the offense charged in the indictment, the intention to take a life does not make the killing criminal when done in self-defense.

If you find from all of the evidence that the defendant did kill Rudolph C. Coleman as charged in the indictment, and that the killing was intentional, and if you further find that the defendant acted in self-defense, you are instructed that such killing was not criminal regardless of the intent.

Hicks v. State, 51 Ind. 407

Moore v. State, 226 Ind. 428, 81 N.E.2d 669'

'Def's. Instruction No. 4.

From what has been stated in other instructions concerning the burden which rests upon the State of Indiana to prove, among other things and beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused unlawfully killed another, it follows that if death resulted from the proper exercise by the accused of the right of self-defense the killing was not unlawful. Therefore, in a case involving the issue of whether or not the accused acted in self-defense, the burden rests upon the State of Indiana to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that death did not result from the proper exercise on the part of the accused of the right of self-defense.'

The principal thrust of the argument is that an instruction which was given by the court concerning self-defense did not disclose to the jury that the burden was upon the State to disprove Woods' claim of self-defense. To the contrary, according to Woods, the instruction given strongly infers that the burden is on the defendant. That instruction as given is as follows:

'Instruction Number 29.

The Court further instructs you that one person may kill another intentionally under such circumstances that the homicide or killing constitute no crime, but is justified by the law. This is known as the law or doctrine of self-defense and may be, and is thus stated for your guidance. Whoever, being...

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14 practice notes
  • O'Conner v. State, No. 2-378A99
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 29 Noviembre 1978
    ...immaterial', is too general and thus is insufficient to present any question upon appeal . . ." Woods v. State (1974)162 Ind.App. 316, 319 N.E.2d 688, 695 Citing Williams v. State, 1907) 168 Ind. 87, 79 N.E. 1079; Beaty, supra ; 1 Bobbitt, Indiana Appellate Practice Procedure 202. We, never......
  • Nuss v. State, No. 1--874A123
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 5 Junio 1975
    ...Patterson v. State (1975), Ind., 324 N.E.2d 482; Naugher v. State (1974), Ind.App., 320 N.E.2d 757; Woods v. State (1974), Ind.App., 319 N.E.2d 688. When a defendant has successfully raised the issue of self-defense, the State may either rebut it directly or rely upon the sufficiency of its......
  • State v. Staten, No. 108,305
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • 12 Agosto 2016
    ...reasonable doubt; additional instruction dealing only with the burden of proof as to self-defense was unnecessary); Woods v. State , 162 Ind.App. 316, 326, 319 N.E.2d 688 (1974) (instructions, taken as whole, sufficiently informed jury of State's burden of proof, even though instruction on ......
  • O'Conner v. State, No. 180S18
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 24 Enero 1980
    ...this evidence was lack of relevancy. This objection is too general to present any question for appellate review. Woods v. State (1974) 162 Ind.App. 316, 319 N.E.2d 688, citing Williams v. State (1907) 168 Ind. 87, 79 N.E. 1079; Beaty v. Donaldson (1964) 136 Ind.App. 269, 200 N.E.2d Although......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 cases
  • O'Conner v. State, No. 2-378A99
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 29 Noviembre 1978
    ...immaterial', is too general and thus is insufficient to present any question upon appeal . . ." Woods v. State (1974)162 Ind.App. 316, 319 N.E.2d 688, 695 Citing Williams v. State, 1907) 168 Ind. 87, 79 N.E. 1079; Beaty, supra ; 1 Bobbitt, Indiana Appellate Practice Procedure 202. We, never......
  • Nuss v. State, No. 1--874A123
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 5 Junio 1975
    ...Patterson v. State (1975), Ind., 324 N.E.2d 482; Naugher v. State (1974), Ind.App., 320 N.E.2d 757; Woods v. State (1974), Ind.App., 319 N.E.2d 688. When a defendant has successfully raised the issue of self-defense, the State may either rebut it directly or rely upon the sufficiency of its......
  • State v. Staten, No. 108,305
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • 12 Agosto 2016
    ...reasonable doubt; additional instruction dealing only with the burden of proof as to self-defense was unnecessary); Woods v. State , 162 Ind.App. 316, 326, 319 N.E.2d 688 (1974) (instructions, taken as whole, sufficiently informed jury of State's burden of proof, even though instruction on ......
  • O'Conner v. State, No. 180S18
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 24 Enero 1980
    ...this evidence was lack of relevancy. This objection is too general to present any question for appellate review. Woods v. State (1974) 162 Ind.App. 316, 319 N.E.2d 688, citing Williams v. State (1907) 168 Ind. 87, 79 N.E. 1079; Beaty v. Donaldson (1964) 136 Ind.App. 269, 200 N.E.2d Although......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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