RAHSAAN A. JOHNSON, Appellant-Defendant,
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee-Plaintiff
APPEAL FROM THE DELAWARE CIRCUIT COURT. The Honorable Marianne L. Vorhees, Judge. Cause No.18C01-1204-FD-88.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: SAMUEL J. BEASLEY, Muncie, Indiana.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana; CHANDRA K. HEIN, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.
RILEY, Judge. ROBB, J. and BRADFORD, J. concur.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
Appellant-Defendant, Rahsaan A. Johnson (Johnson), appeals his conviction of fourteen Counts of possession of animals for fighting contests, Class D felonies, Ind. Code § 35-46-3-8.
Johnson raises two issues on appeal, which we restate as follows:
(1) Whether there is sufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to support Johnson's conviction of possession of animals for fighting contests; and
(2) Whether Johnson's conviction of fourteen Counts of possession of animals for fighting contests violates the double jeopardy clause of the Indiana Constitution.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On March 19, 2012, two crates were shipped from the Dominican Republic and arrived at the Indianapolis International Airport a day later. The importer, Johnson, traveled from his home in Muncie, Indiana to Indianapolis to pick up his cargo from the Customs Office. Inside of each crate was a live dog. A Customs agent noticed that the dogs were covered in bite marks and scars and were clearly in very poor health, so as Johnson waited for Customs to clear his shipment, the Customs agent contacted Homeland Security Investigations and the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service. Both agencies declined to investigate the matter, so the Customs agent requested assistance from the Indianapolis Airport Police. Johnson explained that the dogs were family pets, and although Customs eventually released the dogs to Johnson, the Assistant Chief of the Airport Police contacted the Muncie Police Department to report his observations and concerns about Johnson's dogs.
Approximately one week later, on March 28, 2012, the Muncie Animal Shelter (Shelter) received a report from the City Building Commissioner of dogs barking from inside an apparently abandoned trailer located at 2407 North Blaine Street. The next day, the Shelter's superintendent, Phillip Peckinpaugh (Peckinpaugh), went to the reported address to investigate the complaint. When Peckinpaugh arrived at the mobile home, it appeared that nobody was there. Through a dilapidated fence, Peckinpaugh observed six dogs chained up in the back yard. In addition to the heavy tow chains restraining the dogs, Peckinpaugh noticed that most of the dogs had severe scarring on their faces, one was tangled up and unable to move, and none had any food or water. Peckinpaugh also heard the sounds of other dogs coming from inside the garage and the residence. At this point, he called the Muncie Police Department. The police officers arrived on scene and, after observing the exterior of the property and speaking with Peckinpaugh, obtained a warrant to search the mobile home.
Once inside, Peckinpaugh and the police officers were greeted by the " overpowering" scent of " feces and urine." (Transcript p. 468). The trailer, which did not have running water, was in shambles. In each room of the narrow mobile home, Peckinpaugh and the officers discovered dog cages stacked and crammed into every available space. Most of the plastic and metal cages housed a dog, but other broken cages were also strewn about the filthy house and yard. While there were bowls stashed on top of some of the dog cages, none of the animals had any food or water. The cages, some of which were too small to accommodate the dog living inside of it, were lined with soiled newspapers. Likewise, the garage was filled with caged dogs. After Peckinpaugh and the other Shelter employees removed the dogs from the premises, the police officers further investigated the scene. They seized twenty-two plastic and metal cages; three treadmills designed or modified for dog use; multiple harnesses, leads, cloth and leather muzzles, and weighted collars; and various containers and buckets of pet care products and supplements, including Penicillin, wound ointment, Epsom salt, iron supplements, vitamins, weight boosting supplements, and syringes.
From the mail found inside the residence, the police officers ascertained that the trailer ...