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Barcroft v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 17, 2015

Lori Ann Barcroft, Appellant-Defendant
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: Ruth Johnson, Valerie K. Boots, Marion County Public Defender Agency, Appellate Division Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana; Eric P. Babbs Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

Kirsch, Judge. Crone, J., concurs. Friedlander, J., concurs with separate opinion.


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Kirsch, Judge.

[¶1] Lori Ann Barcroft was found guilty but mentally ill of murder[1] after a bench trial. She appeals and raises two issues, of which we find the following dispositive: whether the trial court committed fundamental error when it used Barcroft's request for an attorney, which she asserted before she made a statement to police, in its determination of whether Barcroft established that she was insane at the time she committed the crime of murder.

[¶2] We reverse and remand.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶3] In approximately 2008 and thereafter, Jaman Iseminger (" Pastor Jaman" ) was a pastor at Bethel Memorial Church, which later changed its name to Bethel Community Church. The church was located on Southport Road in Marion County, Indiana. One of Barcroft's adult sons, Jordan Asbury (" Jordan" ), was a member of the church. Barcroft and Barcroft's father also became members of the church, and Barcroft's mother and other adult sons attended the church periodically. Barcroft met Pastor Jaman in 2008.

[¶4] By around 2010, Jordan became concerned about Barcroft's deteriorating mental state, which he believed was caused by demonic possession. Jordan asked Pastor Jaman to help Barcroft, and Pastor Jaman told Jordan that Barcroft needed to be prayed over and hospitalized. After the death of her father, Barcroft deteriorated further, and Jordan attempted to hospitalize her, but she refused. On one occasion, Barcroft physically attacked a member of the church who was larger than she. Jordan and his wife, Tamia, told Barcroft that she could no longer live with them, as Tamia was fearful for her life. Barcroft then moved in with her mother, Roberta Pettigrew (" Pettigrew" ). In May 2012, an incident occurred where Barcroft and Pettigrew were in the car with Barcroft's grandsons. Barcroft began yelling about Pastor Jaman and saying, " you're all in it." Def.'s Ex. B at 114. When Pettigrew pulled over, Barcroft screamed to get out of the parking lot because it was near Ivy Tech, which Barcroft said was " Mexican Mafia." Id. Barcroft also screamed at Pettigrew and told her that she was " yellow" and against her. Id. Pettigrew learned that Barcroft had acquired a gun in May 2012. An officer with the Hendricks County Sheriff's Department told the family that Barcroft's gun was legal.

[¶5] On the morning of May 19, 2012, Pastor Jaman arrived at the church at about 6:45 a.m. in order to open the church kitchen for volunteers who were working on a restoration project in the cemetery located adjacent to the church and its parking lot. One of the volunteers, Jeff Harris, was in the kitchen when he noticed a woman, later identified as Barcroft, walking around the outside of the church. Barcroft wore a black hooded sweatshirt with its hood up and dark jeans and was carrying a backpack. Harris went outside, where Barcroft was standing in the exterior stairwell that led to the church's basement and Pastor Jaman's office and looking in through a basement window. Harris asked Barcroft if he could help her, and Barcroft asked if Pastor Jaman was there.

[¶6] Harris entered the church and went down the interior stairs to the basement, where he found Pastor Jaman in his office and told him a woman was there to see him. Although Harris was not aware of it, Barcroft had entered the church behind him and was waiting near the top of the interior stairs. Pastor Jaman followed Harris back up the stairs, and after Harris

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passed Barcroft, she fired a shot at Pastor Jaman. Barcroft turned, pointed the gun at Harris, and said " go, go." Tr. at 91. As Harris ran outside and called 911, he heard two more gunshots. Barcroft then ran out of the church and crossed Southport Road. Pastor Jaman came up the exterior stairs, yelled for help, and collapsed on the ground. Lisa Walden, another volunteer, had been sleeping in her car in the church parking lot and heard the gunshots. Walden rushed to help Pastor Jaman while Harris talked to the 911 operator.

[¶7] Officers from the Southport and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Departments, along with paramedics, responded to the church at approximately 7:00 a.m. After obtaining a description of the shooter and learning the direction of her flight, Officers John Czankusch and Daniel Ryan used a police dog in their search. The dog alerted to an area covered with waist-high weeds beneath a couple of trees that was located about a block from the church. Barcroft was found hiding under a blanket of vegetation in such a manner that the officers could only see some red fabric from her clothing or backpack. Officer Czankusch later testified that Barcroft was so well-hidden that the officers probably would not have found her without the police dog or unless they had actually stepped on her. Id. at 129. Officer Ryan ordered Barcroft twice to come out. Barcroft did not respond to the first command. When making the second command, Officer Ryan told Barcroft that he would shoot her if she did not come out or if she did not show her hands. Id. at 134. Barcroft then crawled out of the vegetation and was placed in handcuffs by Officer Czankusch. Officer Ryan asked Barcroft if she had a gun, and Barcroft said yes and informed him that the gun was in her jacket pocket. At the time of her apprehension, the officers noted Barcroft's calm demeanor.

[¶8] The gun that Barcroft had in her possession was determined to be a semiautomatic .22 caliber pistol. Officers searched Barcroft's backpack and found an ammunition container with ninety-two live .22 caliber rounds. Inside the backpack, they also found binoculars, personal items, and letters Barcroft had written to her mother and her sons with a theme of saying goodbye. A crime scene investigation discovered three fired casings inside the church -- one on the landing of the main floor near the interior stairs, one on the interior stairs, and one on the hallway of the main floor near the chapel entrance. There were also three live rounds on the floor inside the church, which may have resulted from Barcroft's gun jamming. Detective Michael Mitchell arrived at the scene, and ...

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