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08/17/87 JANICE FULTON CHINN v. STATE INDIANA

Filed: August 17, 1987.

JANICE FULTON CHINN, APPELLANT,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, APPELLEE



APPEAL FROM KNOX CIRCUIT COURT The Honorable William H. Miller, Special Judge, Cause No. CCR 85-15.

Givan, J., Shepard, C.j., not participating, DeBruler, Pivarnik and Dickson, JJ., concur.

Author: Givan

GIVAN, J.

Appellant was convicted by a jury of Conspiracy to Commit Murder, a Class A felony, and Murder. The court sentenced appellant to consecutive terms of fifty (50) years and sixty (60) years.

The facts are: Around June 15, 1984, Ronald Fulton was at the Franklin Bowling Lanes in Evansville having drinks with his girl friend when appellant, his wife, and Donna Stites, her daughter, came into the bar and an argument ensued. The bartender overheard appellant and Stites state that they would have a "contract" out on Fulton by morning.

After that evening, appellant and Fulton resumed a marital relationship. The reconciliation did not last and Fulton moved out of the house.

On the morning of July 3, 1984, Fulton arrived at his place of employment, the Terminex exterminator service in Evansville. After work, he returned home to discuss divorce plans with appellant and their three children. After this Discussion, appellant left with the children to play Putt-Putt Golf. While appellant and the children were out, Stites and Frank Dorsey arrived and shot the victim several times, killing him. The victim's body was discovered in the trunk of a white Pontiac in St. Louis on July 8, 1984.

On July 7, 1984, Frank Dorsey and Donna Stites were seen at the Samlight Loan Company in St. Louis where they pawned the victim's golf clubs. Frank Dorsey's fingerprints were also found on the white Pontiac.

Appellant contends the trial court erred by admitting State's Exhibit No. 142, a letter written by coconspirator Frank Dorsey to appellant which implicated her in the crime.

While Dorsey was in jail on this charge, he wrote a letter addressed to "Miss Jan" demanding the money that she agreed to pay him. At the bottom of the letter Dorsey wrote a telephone number where his cell mate's wife could reach appellant. He signed the letter with his nickname "Nut" and requested that appellant tender $1,000 for each "book" until the amount owed was paid. Dorsey attempted to funnel the letter through his cell mate's wife who was to read it to appellant and then promptly burn it. However, the cell mate's wife gave the letter to her husband's lawyer.

Appellant contends that there was no foundation laid showing the existence of a conspiracy prior to the admission of the letter.

Evidence of acts or statements of parties to a conspiracy in furtherance of its objectives, is admissible against all the parties to the conspiracy. Patton v. State (1961), 241 Ind. 645, 175 N.E.2d 11. However, before the acts or declarations of one conspirator are admissible into evidence against a coconspirator, there must be some evidence, either direct or circumstantial, of the existence of a conspiracy. Id.

When Dorsey arrived at appellant's home on July 3, 1984, he was disguised in a dress and wig which belonged to appellant. The dress and wig were later found in the trunk of the white Pontiac along with the victim's body. Hairs, fibers and bloodstains were also found in appellant's residence.

On July 5, 1984, appellant went to the bank and closed out her husband's Christmas Club account and withdrew the $1,000 in the account. She also sold the forty-five percent share of Terminex stock which the victim owned. In addition, a $250,000 life insurance ...


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