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Legg v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 10, 2014

DONTA LEGG, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee-Plaintiff

APPEAL FROM THE MARION SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Sheila A. Carlisle, Judge. Cause No. 49G03-1310-MR-65942.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: LISA M. JOHNSON, Brownsburg, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana; JUSTIN F. ROEBEL, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

BAKER, Judge. MAY, J., and BARNES, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 764

BAKER, Judge

In this case, a sixteen-year-old was tried as an adult and convicted of murder. The defendant requested to be sentenced under the alternative sentencing scheme for juvenile offenders, but the trial court denied the request and sentenced him as an adult. As an issue of first impression, we find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the nature of the offense and the character of the offender rendered sentencing under the alternative sentencing scheme unsuitable in this case.

Donta Legg appeals the sentence imposed by the trial court after Legg was convicted of Murder,[1] a felony, and Carrying a Handgun Without a License,[2] a class A misdemeanor. Legg argues that the trial court should have sentenced him under the alternative sentencing scheme applicable to juvenile offenders sentenced as adults and that the sentence is inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and his character. Finding no error, we affirm.

FACTS

The victim, nineteen-year-old Darren Kirk, lived with his mother, Trisha Kirk, and his two brothers, two-year-old A.K. and seventeen-year-old M.K. On September 20, 2013, someone knocked on their door at approximately 11:00 p.m. Trisha answered the door and saw sixteen-year-old Legg standing on the front porch. Legg was there to see Darren. She called for Darren, who went outside with Legg.

Trisha remained inside until she heard a commotion on the porch. She observed Darren wrestling with a man, who was never identified, and Legg standing next to the porch. M.K. also heard the commotion, ran out onto the porch, and tried to pull the unidentified man off of Darren.

Darren yelled, " He's got a gun. He's got a gun." Tr. p. 67. The unidentified man pulled a gun out of his waistband and handed it to Legg, instructing Legg to " Pop that ni***r." Id. at 68. Legg took one or two steps back, raised the gun, and shot Darren once. M.K. stepped back into the house and Darren followed him. Darren stumbled, fell to the ground, and died. Legg fled the scene. On November 3, 2013, the State charged Legg as an adult with murder and class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without a license. A jury trial was held on February 3 and 4, 2014, and a jury found Legg guilty as charged.

The trial court held a sentencing hearing on March 27, 2014. The trial court found the following aggravating factors: Legg's history as a juvenile offender, his failure to complete probation and a suspended commitment related to his last case, his marijuana abuse, the nature and circumstances of the offense, and the fact that he committed the offense in the presence of children. The trial court found as mitigating circumstances Legg's age, upbringing, and issues with schooling. After weighing aggravators and mitigators, the trial court concluded that they balanced and imposed concurrent executed terms of fifty-five years for murder and one year for carrying a handgun without a license. The trial court declined to sentence Legg under the alternative sentencing scheme for juveniles tried as adults. Legg now appeals.

DISCUSSION AND DECISION

Legg argues that the fifty-five-year sentence imposed by the trial court is inappropriate

Page 765

in light of the nature of the offenses and his character. Indiana Appellate Rule 7(B) provides that this Court may revise a sentence if it is inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and the character of the offender. We must " conduct [this] review with substantial deference and give 'due consideration' to the trial court's decision--since the 'principal role of [our] review is to attempt to leaven the outliers,' and not to achieve a perceived 'correct' sentence . . . ." Knapp v. State, 9 N.E.3d 1274, 1292 (Ind. 2014) (quoting Chambers v. State, 989 N.E.2d 1257, 1259 (Ind. 2013)) (internal citations omitted).

An adult who is convicted of murder is eligible for a sentence between forty-five and sixty-five years, with an advisory term of fifty-five years. Ind. Code ยง 35-50-2-3. ...


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