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Hicks v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 11, 2014

ROBERT E. HICKS, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee-Plaintiff

APPEAL FROM THE VANDERBURGH CIRCUIT COURT. The Honorable David D. Kiely, Judge. Cause No. 82C01-1207-MR-887.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JOHN P. BRINSON, Evansville, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana, JODI KATHRYN STEIN, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

MATHIAS, Judge. BRADFORD, J., and PYLE, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 425

MATHIAS, Judge

Following a jury trial, Robert E. Hicks (" Hicks" ) was convicted in Vanderburgh Circuit Court of murder and sentenced to fifty-five years in the Indiana Department of Correction. Hicks appeals and claims that the trial court abused its discretion by admitting into evidence recorded statements made by Hicks to the police in which he admitted to killing the victim.

We affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

In the summer of 2012, Hicks lived with the victim in this case, his long-time girlfriend Anna Jochum (" Jochum" ). The couple often argued about money and Hicks's use of alcohol and drugs. On July 2, 2012, Jochum's niece, C.D., visited her aunt. Shortly after C.D. left, Hicks and Jochum got into an argument. Jochum grabbed a knife and threatened to " kick [Hicks's] ass again," referring to an earlier altercation in which Jochum had injured Hicks. Tr. p. 108. Hicks stated, " not this time, honey," and grabbed her by the throat and knocked the knife out of her hands. Id. Hicks then grabbed a large block of wood that the couple used to prop open a bathroom window and hit Jochum in the head several times. After Hicks struck her in the back of the neck with the block, Jochum

Page 426

stopped moving. Hicks then picked up the knife Jochum had brandished and stabbed her repeatedly on the left side of her body. Hicks realized that he had killed Jochum and placed her body in the bathroom next to the side of the bathtub. He then threw a mattress on top of the tub. Hicks washed his hands, changed his clothes, and left. He eventually went across the Ohio River to Henderson, Kentucky and went to the Harbor House homeless shelter.

Jochum's niece was unable to reach her aunt by telephone and decided to go check on Jochum on July 8, 2012. When she did, she noticed a foul odor, and her knocks on the door went unanswered. Then, on July 12, Jochum's niece and her mother went to the apartment and asked the maintenance man to open the door. When they entered the apartment, they found Jochum's decomposing body in the bathroom. They then telephoned the police.

The police investigation revealed that Jochum had several blunt-force injuries to her head and neck and that her cause of death was two fractured and displaced vertebrae in her neck, which lacerated her spinal cord. This injury caused paralysis and a quick death. She also sustained over fifty stab wounds on her left shoulder, chest, and leg. The police were also informed that Hicks had been living with Jochum but was missing. The police decided to locate Hicks to see if he was a victim or knew anything about Jochum's death, but there was as of yet no evidence linking him to the crime. The police issued a bulletin to surrounding jurisdictions indicating that Hicks was a person of interest with whom they would like to speak. On July 13, 2012, Harbor House contacted local police to inform them that Hicks was staying there.

Sergeant Larry Nelson (" Sgt. Nelson" ) and Detective Jeffrey Jones (" Detective Jones" ) of the Evansville Police Department went to the Henderson, Kentucky homeless shelter to speak with Hicks. When they arrived, Hicks was sitting outside near the rear of the shelter, smoking a cigarette, with a local police officer standing nearby. Sgt. Nelson told Hicks that Jochum was dead, but Hicks made no response. The officers then asked if Hicks would be willing to speak with them and gave him the option of speaking with them at the local Henderson Police Department or going back to Indiana to the Evansville Police Department. Hicks agreed and chose to speak with the officers at the Henderson Police Department. Hicks was not placed in handcuffs or restrained and was driven by the police to the police station. There, he was taken to an interview room which measured approximately 4' by 8' in size. Because they did not yet consider Hicks to be a suspect, the police did not advise Hicks of his rights, nor did they record the interview. During this " ...


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