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Jones v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 30, 2014

BRANDAN JONES, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee-Plaintiff

APPEAL FROM THE MARION COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Sheila Carlisle, Judge. The Honorable Stanley Kroh, Magistrate. Cause No. 49G03-1305-FD-029334.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: MICHAEL C. BORSCHEL, Fishers, Indiana.

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

FRIEDLANDER, Judge. VAIDIK, C.J., and MAY, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 878

FRIEDLANDER, Judge

Brandan Jones appeals following a guilty verdict for class D felony Assisting a Criminal.[1] Jones raises a single issue for our review: Did the State present sufficient evidence to support a finding of guilt?

We affirm.

At approximately 1:00 a.m. on May 4, 2013, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer David Hutson was on patrol duty in his marked police cruiser when he saw a gold SUV travelling in the opposite lane. The SUV crossed the center line such that Officer Huston had to take evasive action to avoid a collision. Officer Hutson then turned around and followed the vehicle and watched as the driver failed to stop at a stop sign. At that point, Officer Hutson activated his emergency lights and initiated a traffic stop. When Officer Hutson approached the vehicle, he observed a male driver and a male passenger in the front seat. Both men provided Officer Hutson with state identification cards. After returning to his patrol car and checking the identification provided by Bennie Stigler, the man in the driver's seat, Officer Hutson discovered that Stigler's driver's license was suspended for life. Before

Page 879

returning to the SUV to arrest Stigler, Officer Huston called for backup. A few minutes later, Officer Robert Lawson arrived, and both officers approached the vehicle. To their surprise, however, Jones, the passenger, was now in the driver's seat, and Stigler, the driver, was now in the passenger seat. The officers removed both men from the car and placed them in handcuffs. Officer Hutson asked Jones why he had switched seats, and he denied doing so. During this conversation, Officer Hutson smelled an odor of alcoholic beverages on Jones's breath.

As a result of these events, Stigler was charged with class C felony operating a motor vehicle while privileges are forfeited for life, and Jones was charged with assisting a criminal as a class D felony. A joint jury trial was held on April 23, 2014, and both Stigler and Jones were found guilty as charged. At sentencing, the trial court entered Jones's conviction as a class A misdemeanor pursuant to Ind. Code Ann. § 35-50-2-7(b) (West, Westlaw 2014) and sentenced him to 365 days with credit for two days served and the balance suspended to probation. Jones now appeals.

Jones argues that the State presented insufficient evidence to support the jury's guilty verdict. In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, we neither reweigh the evidence nor judge the credibility of witnesses. Atteberry v. State, 911 N.E.2d 601 (Ind.Ct.App. 2009). Instead, we consider only the evidence supporting the conviction and the reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom. Id. If there is substantial evidence of probative value from which a reasonable trier of fact could have drawn the conclusion that the defendant was guilty of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt, then the judgment will not be disturbed. Baumgartner v. State, 891 N.E.2d 1131 (Ind.Ct.App. 2008).

It is not necessary that the evidence overcome every reasonable hypothesis of innocence; rather, the evidence is sufficient if an inference may reasonably be drawn from it to support the conviction. Drane v. State, 867 N.E.2d 144 (Ind. 2007). Accordingly, the question on appeal is whether the inferences supporting the verdict were reasonable, not whether other, " more reasonable" inferences could have been drawn. Thompson v. State, 804 N.E.2d 1146, 1150 (Ind. 2004). Because reaching alternative inferences is the function of the trier of fact, we may not ...


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