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M.J. v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 30, 2014

M.J., Appellant-Respondent,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee-Petitioner

APPEAL FROM THE MARION SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Marilyn Moores, Judge, The Honorable Scott Stowers, Magistrate. Cause Nos. 49D09-1307-JD-1954, 49D09-1206-JD-1621, 49D09-1209-JD-2393, 49D09-1305-JD-1286.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: HILARY BOWE RICKS, Indianapolis, Indiana.

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

DARDEN, Senior Judge. Friedlander, J., and May, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 797

DARDEN, Senior Judge

M.J. appeals his adjudication as a delinquent child for committing resisting law enforcement as a Class A misdemeanor if committed by an adult.

We reverse M.J.'s adjudication and vacate the February 19, 2014, dispositional orders in Cause Numbers 49D09-1206-JD-1621 (CN 1621), 49D09-1209-JD-2393 (CN 2393), and 49D09-1305-JD-1286 (CN 1286), which modified prior orders and include suspended commitments to the Indiana Department of Correction.

The sole issue for our review is whether there is sufficient evidence to support M.J.'s adjudication as a delinquent child.

In the late morning hours of July 9, 2013, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officers Brian Spengler and Vincent Leeds were dispatched to an apartment complex on the south side of Indianapolis to investigate a report of a suspicious person. The officers were looking for a young black male wearing a white t-shirt who was " seen around a [w]hite Ford SUV." Tr. p. 7. The officers arrived and looked around the complex but did not see anything or anyone in the area. Officer Spengler checked the SUV's license plate and learned that it was a stolen vehicle.

About thirty minutes after receiving the original dispatch, while the officers were standing by the SUV, Officer Leeds noticed M.J., a young black male wearing a maroon shirt, walking towards the officers with his head down looking at the ground. When he looked up and saw the officers, M.J. immediately turned and headed east. He looked over his shoulder at the officers, walked faster, and then began to run, which prompted Officer Spengler to yell, " Police, come here!" Tr. p. 11. M.J. kept running, and when the officers lost sight of him, they activated the lights and sirens in their car and began looking for him. The officers requested assistance, and police canines found M.J. hiding under some trees.

On July 10, 2013, the State alleged that M.J. was a delinquent child for committing resisting law enforcement, a Class A misdemeanor, if committed by an adult. As a result of this allegation, the State filed petitions to modify the dispositional decrees in the following three prior adjudications: 1) CN 1621 -- auto theft, a Class D felony if committed by an adult; 2) CN 2393 -- theft, a Class D felony if committed by an adult; and 3) CN 1286 -- theft, a Class D felony if committed by an adult.

At a January 2014 hearing, Officer Spengler testified that he attempted to stop M.J. because the young man ran. M.J. testified that he lived in a house in a nearby neighborhood and cut through the apartment complex for a quicker route to the bus stop. He explained that on July 9, 2013, his family overslept, and he was running to catch the bus to the Boys and Girls Club. He further explained that he hid under the trees when he heard the sirens because he " didn't want to be a part of" whatever was happening. Tr. p. 27. M.J.'s father testified that he overslept the morning of July 9, and was not able to take M.J. to the Boys and Girls Club.

On February 19, 2014, the juvenile court found that M.J. committed resisting law enforcement, a Class A misdemeanor if ...


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