LARRY D. RUSSELL, JR., Appellant-Defendant,
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee-Plaintiff
As Corrected August 4, 2014.
APPEAL FROM THE VIGO SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable John T. Roach, Judge. Cause No. 84D01-1212-FC-3871.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: CARA SCHAEFER WIENEKE, Special Assistant to the State Public Defender, Plainfield, Indiana.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana, LARRY D. ALLEN, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.
NAJAM, Judge. VAIDIK, C.J., and BROWN, J., concur.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
Larry D. Russell, Jr. appeals his sentence following his convictions for five counts of neglect of a dependent, as Class C felonies, and two counts of criminal confinement, as Class C felonies, pursuant to a guilty plea. Russell presents a single issue for our review, namely, whether the trial court sentenced Russell as provided in the plea agreement. But our resolution of this issue requires us to address a more fundamental issue sua sponte, namely, whether Russell's plea agreement is void and unenforceable as a matter of law.
We hold that the sentencing provision in Russell's plea agreement is contrary to law, and we reverse and remand with instructions.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Russell and his wife adopted three teenaged children: P.G., B.J., and T.D. (" the children" ). Between August 23 and November 23, 2012, Russell engaged in repeated acts of extreme abuse and neglect of the three children. The children lived together in one bedroom, and Russell locked the doors to that bedroom with several padlocks on the outside of the doors. There were no light fixtures in the bedroom, and the windows were covered with plywood. Russell would sometimes lock the children in the bedroom for eighteen to twenty-four hours per day. Russell deprived the children of food and access to a bathroom for extended periods of time. The children devised a way of reaching the kitchen to get food by climbing through a loose panel in the wall and burrowing a tunnel through the inside of the walls and ceiling.
The children would typically urinate in a plastic bottle and store it in a hole in the bedroom wall. When Russell and his wife discovered the bottle of urine, they proceeded to pour the urine over the children's heads. Russell and his wife also rubbed a product called " Icy Hot" on the children's genitals and rectums, and they would duct-tape diapers to the children before the children went to bed. Russell also tied the children to the beds with duct tape and rope. Russell waterboarded the children and bound their arms behind their backs with a belt. Finally, when Russell wanted to make certain that the children would stay quiet, he placed a rolled sock in the mouth of each child and secured it with duct tape.
On November 23, P.G. freed himself from the rope and duct tape Russell had used to keep him in bed, pried the plywood from a window, broke the window, and jumped from the second-story window to the ground below. P.G. then made his way to a hospital and reported the abuse. At that time, P.G. was seventeen years old but weighed only eighty-two pounds.
The State charged Russell with five counts of neglect of a ...