APPEAL FROM THE MARION SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Lisa F. Borges, Judge. Cause No. 49G04-1301-FC-004144.
FOR APPELLANT: JAMES H. VOYLES JR., JENNIFER M. LUKEMEYER, VOYLES ZAHN & PAUL, Indianapolis, Indiana.
FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana, JODI KATHRYN STEIN, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.
VAIDIK, Chief Judge. FRIEDLANDER, J., and MAY, J., concur.
VAIDIK, Chief Judge
Gregory Hudson struck and killed Kathleen Clark with his pickup truck. Hudson did not stop at the scene of the accident, nor did he contact authorities. After police received an anonymous tip that Hudson was involved in the accident, they confronted him at his workplace. Although Hudson initially denied it, he ultimately admitted to accidentally striking and killing Kathleen. At his bench trial for Class C felony failure to stop after an accident resulting in death, defense counsel argued that Hudson could not be convicted because he did not know he had struck a person; put differently, he did not know he had been in an accident causing injury. Citing expert and eyewitness testimony as well as other evidence, the trial court rejected this claim and found Hudson guilty. The court sentenced Hudson to five years--two years executed on home detention through community corrections and three years suspended, two of them on probation.
Hudson challenges his conviction on appeal. Although he frames his argument as one of statutory interpretation, the issue before us is actually one of sufficiency, and we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support Hudson's conviction. We therefore affirm the trial court.
Facts and Procedural History
Around 7:00 p.m. on a rainy evening in January 2013, Kathleen Clark was walking southbound along South Meridian Street near the intersection of Troy Avenue. Kathleen, a petite woman, was wearing dark clothing and carrying an umbrella. She was walking in the road because large bushes prevented her from walking next to it.
Hudson, who was driving southbound on Meridian Street in his Ford F-150 pickup truck, struck Kathleen. The impact fractured Kathleen's left leg and caused her head to rear back and strike the hood
of Hudson's truck. The accident fractured
Kathleen's skull and lacerated her brain stem. She died instantly.
Eyewitnesses standing outside a nearby bar, the Thirsty Turtle, heard the impact and looked toward the sound. One eyewitness, Jeffrey Gerrard, described the sound as " a noise that we could tell a vehicle hit something." State's Confidential Ex. 1. Gerrard said it looked like Hudson's truck was pushing something, perhaps a box of trash. Id. Gerrard later observed trash and an umbrella in the road. Id.
Hudson did not stop after the accident. He continued driving for half a mile, past other businesses, and eventually turned into a residential neighborhood. One of the neighborhood's residents, David Lucid, saw Hudson drive into the neighborhood and noticed that one of his headlights was out. Lucid watched as Hudson stopped under a street lamp, got out of his truck, and approached the front passenger side. After a quick assessment, Hudson got into his truck again and drove away. Hudson then returned to his home in Shelbyville. He did not return to the scene of the accident or contact authorities.
Kathleen's body was found just before noon the following day in a grassy field fifteen to twenty feet away from Meridian Street. Her coat was covering her body. Police found several of her possessions in and around the road, including her glasses, umbrella, and purse. Several pieces of Hudson's truck were also found nearby.
Three days later, police received an anonymous tip that Hudson was involved in the accident. Hudson spoke to the police at his workplace and allowed them to search his truck, which had front-end damage and showed signs of repair. Hudson initially denied being in the area where the accident occurred and said that he believed his truck had been damaged in a parking lot in Castleton. Def.'s Ex. T. But when pressed, Hudson admitted that he was involved in the accident. Id. He claimed, however, that he never saw Kathleen and did not know that he hit a person--he believed he struck a wooden barrier or road sign. Id. Hudson admitted that he stopped in a nearby ...