APPEAL FROM THE LAKE SUPERIOR COURT, The Honorable T. Edward Page, Judge Pro Tempore, Cause No. 3CR-232-1284-899.
Shepard, C.j., DeBRULER, Givan, Pivarnik and Dickson, JJ., Concur.
Appellant Tyrone Jackson was tried before a jury and convicted of robbery, a class A felony, Ind. Code § 35-42-5-1 (Burns 1985 Repl.). The trial court sentenced him to twelve years imprisonment. On direct appeal, Jackson challenges the trial court's denial of two motions for mistrial.
The evidence at trial showed that the victim was robbed while leaving a Lake County liquor store. A tall, dark young man wearing a black leather coat held the door for her as she left. He followed her into the parking lot, grabbed her purse and wrenched it from her grasp, throwing her to the pavement. The victim suffered scraped shins and bruised ribs. She saw the man in a black leather coat walk rapidly away. She was unable to identify her attacker. A clerk at the liquor store identified Jackson, whom she had known for approximately ten years, as the man who held the door for the victim.
A few days after the robbery, Jackson's parole officer attempted to contact Jackson and spoke to his sister. The officer told her that Jackson should come to his office and bring the contents of the purse. That evening, an unidentified female telephoned the victim to say that her stolen possessions were in the front yard. Some of the stolen items were recovered from a bag found in her yard.
Before any evidence was presented, counsel and the court discussed the testimony of the parole officer. It was decided that he would be referred to as a "law enforcement officer" to preclude knowledge of Jackson's status as parolee. The court entered an oral order in limine prohibiting evidence of Jackson's parole status.
The first motion for mistrial arose during the state's direct examination of the victim. The prosecutor asked the victim if she had received any of her property back. In response, the victim said, "His parole, can I . . ." Defense counsel immediately moved for a mistrial, arguing that mention of the word parole indicated to the jury that Jackson had a prior criminal history.
The trial court admonished the jury that the answer was stricken and should not be considered. The jurors indicated that they could disregard the statement. The motion for mistrial was denied. Later, another witness testified without objection that Jackson was arrested after leaving his parole officer's office.
The second motion for mistrial occurred when the defense called Jackson's girlfriend as an alibi witness. During cross-examination, the State attempted to demonstrate her bias in favor of the defendant. The prosecutor pointed out the relationship between Jackson and the witness by questioning her about visiting Jackson. The following exchange took place:
Q: How were you in contact with Mr. Jackson?
A: I went down to city jail and saw him the day after he was arrested.
Q: And have you been in contact with him after he's been brought ...