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McSchooler v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

September 3, 2014

TIMOTHY McSCHOOLER, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee-Plaintiff

Page 679

APPEAL FROM THE HENDRICKS SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Mark A. Smith, Judge. Cause No. 32D04-1310-FD-1092.

FOR APPELLANT: PAULA M. SAUER, Danville, Indiana.

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

BRADFORD, Judge. BARNES, J., and BROWN, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 680

BRADFORD, Judge

CASE SUMMARY

In October of 2013, Appellant-Defendant Timothy McSchooler and Arnetta Rau were involved in a romantic relationship when, early one morning, the duo started fighting. During the fight, McSchooler pushed Rau against a wall and choked her. Later that day, the fight resumed, and McSchooler pushed Rau into a closet and told her that he should kill her. Rau escaped after punching McSchooler in the mouth. The State of Indiana (" the State" ) charged McSchooler with Class D felony strangulation and Class A misdemeanor battery.

At a pretrial hearing, McSchooler indicated that he wished to forego a jury trial, and a magistrate found that McSchooler knowingly waived his right to jury trial.

Page 681

On the day of trial, the trial court revisited the question of McSchooler's waiver of his right to a jury trial, verifying that McSchooler wanted to forego a jury trial. Following trial, the trial court found McSchooler guilty as charged and entered judgment of conviction on the strangulation charge. Finding McSchooler's criminal history to be an aggravating circumstance, the trial court sentenced him to a maximum sentence of three years of incarceration. McSchooler contends on the appeal that he did not validly waive his right to trial by jury, the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing him, and his sentence is inappropriate. We affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

As of October 15, 2013, McSchooler and Rau had known each other for several years and were romantically involved. At approximately 3:30 to 4:30 a.m. that morning, the duo argued at Rau's home after McSchooler accused Rau of " sleeping around" and prostituting herself on the internet. Tr. p. 99. At approximately 4:30 to 5:30 a.m., the duo began arguing again, with McSchooler again accusing Rau of " performing sexual acts on the internet" and stealing drugs. Tr. p. 108. McSchooler pushed Rau against a wall, on which Rau struck her head. McSchooler then " had [Rau] against the um, [the] pantry door, where he um, he was choking [Rau,] [s]queezing [and] kind of shakin'" with his hands wrapped around her neck. Tr. p. 111. McSchooler picked Rau up by the neck and threw her on the floor.

By around 6:00 a.m., McSchooler had " lightened up" to the extent that the duo walked to a nearby Speedway convenience store so that Rau could get a soft drink. Tr. p. 114. On the way back, McSchooler berated and yelled at Rau. At approximately 7:00 a.m., Rau told McSchooler that she needed to go to the CVS pharmacy and, once he was outside her home, she attempted to lock him out. McSchooler came back inside through a window, and the duo went to the CVS to purchase cat food and a birthday card for Rau's friend Holly.

At around 5:00 p.m., the duo walked back over to the CVS to " get some Hamburger Helper or something to make for dinner." Tr. p. 119. Shortly thereafter, Rau's mother brought over a birthday cake for Holly and some diet Sunkist. After Rau's mother left, Holly came over to retrieve her birthday cake. After Holly left, Rau and McSchooler began to argue again, and " food was thrown." Tr. p. 122. McSchooler again accused Rau of " sleep[ing] around" but added accusations that she had slept with Holly's boyfriend and had prostituted Holly on the internet as well. McSchooler pushed Rau into a closet; said " I ought to just f****** kill you, you know[; ]" and kicked Rau in her ribcage directly below her armpit. Tr. p. 124. Rau punched McSchooler in the mouth, ran out of her home, and went to her neighbor's house, where her neighbor called the police.

On October 16, 2013, the State charged McSchooler with Class D felony strangulation and Class A misdemeanor battery. Also on that day, McSchooler was advised in open court, " You have the right to a public and speedy trial by jury.... If you are charged with a felony, your case will automatically be set for a jury trial." Tr. p. 1-2. On December 4, 2013, a pretrial hearing was held, at which the following exchange took place:

[Defense counsel]: Uh, your honor, if we can have it uh, my client has decided that he would like to proceed in the matter via a bench trial as opposed to a jury trial. He is not waiving ...

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