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D.K. v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 28, 2014

D.K., Appellant-Defendant,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee-Plaintiff

Editorial Note:

These opinions are not precedents and cannot be cited or relied upon unless used when establishing res judicata or collateral estoppel or in actions between the same party. Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure 65(D).

APPEAL FROM THE CARROLL SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Kurtis Fouts, Judge. Cause No. 08D01-1302-JD-6.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: STEVEN KNECHT, Vonderheide & Knecht, P.C., Lafayette, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana; RICHARD C. WEBSTER, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

FRIEDLANDER, Judge. KIRSCH, J., and BAILEY, J., concur.

OPINION

MEMORANDUM DECISION - NOT FOR PUBLICATION

FRIEDLANDER, Judge.

Sixteen-year-old D.K. appeals a true finding that he committed an act that would constitute the offense of Battery,[1] a class A misdemeanor, if committed by an adult. D.K. presents the following restated issue for review: Did the State present sufficient evidence to rebut his claim of self-defense?

We affirm.

The facts favorable to the judgment are that on November 21, 2012, fourteen-year-old D.J. was visiting at the house of two of his friends. D.K. and four friends were skateboarding at a church across the street. At some point, D.J. and his friends went out of the house and started shouting at D.K. and his friends, calling them " queers, fags, gay, whatever." Transcript at 60. A short time later, D.J. and his friends traveled to a nearby Citgo station to get something to drink. When they reached a corner near the courthouse, D.J. saw D.K. and his friends across the street. D.K. walked up to D.J. and his friends and told them to stop calling them names. D.K. then returned to his friends and they left. D.J. and his friends went to the Citgo station, where D.J. met his girlfriend. D.J. and his girlfriend stayed there, while D.J.'s friends left. A short time later, D.J. and his girlfriend were talking in an alley near the Citgo station, with D.J. straddling his bicycle and his girlfriend sitting nearby on the ground. D.K. and his friends appeared in the alley and approached D.J. and his girlfriend. D.K.'s friends sat and talked with D.J.'s girlfriend while D.K. walked up to D.J. and spoke with him about the previous name-calling incidents. A less-than-friendly discussion ensued, during which D.J. drew back his fist and told D.K. that if D.K. hit him, he would hit D.K. back. At that point, D.K. struck D.J. on the left side of his face, knocking him to the ground and rendering him unconscious. D.K. and his friends then left the scene. D.J. was unconscious for approximately thirty seconds and his nose bled profusely. Subsequent examination revealed that D.J. had suffered a fractured cheekbone on the left side of his face.

As a result of the incident, the State filed a petition alleging that D.K. was a delinquent child because he committed an act that would constitute the offense of battery resulting in serious bodily injury if it were committed by an adult. At the hearing, D.K. admitted striking D.J., but claimed he did so in self-defense. The court entered a true finding of juvenile delinquency and placed D.K. on unsupervised probation for 180 days.

D.K. contends the evidence was insufficient to rebut his claim of self-defense. The standard for reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of evidence to rebut a claim of self-defense is the same standard used for any claim of insufficient evidence. Wallace v. State, 725 N.E.2d 837 (Ind. 2000). As in adult criminal cases, a true finding that a child committed a delinquent act must be based upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Ind. Code Ann. § 31-37-14-1 (West, Westlaw current through 2013 1st Reg. Sess. & 1st Reg. Technical Sess.). We review sufficiency claims in this context utilizing the same standard employed in challenges to the sufficiency of evidence supporting adult criminal convictions. See B.K.C. v. State, 781 N.E.2d 1157 (Ind.Ct.App. 2003). Pursuant to that standard:

[w]hen reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence needed to support a criminal conviction, we neither reweigh evidence nor judge witness credibility. Henley v. State, 881 N.E.2d 639, 652 (Ind. 2008). " We consider only the evidence supporting the judgment and any reasonable inferences that can be drawn from such evidence." Id. We will affirm if there is substantial evidence of probative value such that a ...

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