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Phillips v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 20, 2015

Kirsten L. Phillips, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

As Corrected February 23, 2015.

Page 1285

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1286

Appeal from the Hamilton Superior Court. The Honorable Daniel L. Pfleging, Judge. Case No. 29D02-1306-FA-5012.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: Andrew M. Barker, Stephenie K. Gookins, Campbell Kyle Proffitt LLP, Noblesville, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, Justin Roebel, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Crone, Judge. Friedlander, J., and Kirsch, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 1287

Crone, Judge.

Case Summary

[¶ 1] Five-month-old C.T. tragically died after Kirsten L. Phillips put him down for a nap inside a broken portable crib at the home daycare where she worked. Following a jury trial, Phillips was convicted of class C felony reckless homicide and class D felony involuntary manslaughter. Phillips appeals, asserting that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting certain evidence at trial. Phillips also asserts that the State presented insufficient evidence to support her convictions. We conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting evidence and that sufficient evidence supports Phillips's reckless homicide conviction. We need not address the sufficiency of the evidence of her lesser conviction for involuntary manslaughter because we determine sua sponte that her dual convictions for reckless homicide and involuntary manslaughter violate double jeopardy principles. Accordingly, we affirm Phillips's reckless homicide conviction and vacate her involuntary manslaughter conviction.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶ 2] The facts most favorable to the verdicts indicate that in January 2013, twenty-one-year-old Phillips lived with her mother, Stacey Cox, in Carmel. Cox ran a daycare out of the home, and Phillips had been assisting her mother with the care of the children at the daycare for about six months. Each day, " [a]bout six to nine children" were at the daycare. Tr. at 604. Five-month-old C.T. and his sister were two of the children cared for by Cox and Phillips. C.T.'s mother was a cousin by marriage of Cox. C.T.'s grandparents paid $130 per week for the daycare services.

[¶ 3] On January 24, 2013, C.T.'s grandmother dropped him and his sister off at the daycare around 6:30 a.m. Phillips was asleep at the time, but woke up around 8:00 a.m. and began " playing with all the kids" at the daycare shortly thereafter. Id. at 641. At that time, C.T. was awake in a bouncy seat and appeared to be " pretty normal." Id. at 641-42. Phillips helped her mother care for the children that morning, and around 11:45 a.m., Phillips made a spaghetti lunch for the older children, cleaned them up, and changed all of their diapers. " Not too long after that[,]" Phillips fed C.T. about eight ounces of formula and burped him. Id. at 646. Because it was naptime for C.T., Phillips placed a folded " big queen sized blanket" inside one of the portable cribs in the home and laid C.T. on his back on top of the blanket inside the portable crib.[1] Phillips knew that this particular portable crib was broken as she had previously observed that it was " like, bent in" in the bottom. Id. at 648. Phillips put another blanket over C.T. and exited the room. Phillips left the residence at 12:20 p.m. to meet her father for lunch.

[¶ 4] Shortly after 3:00 p.m., Cox went to check on C.T. and found him unresponsive in the portable crib. Cox called 911. Paramedics and firefighters who arrived on the scene found that C.T. had no pulse and was cold to the touch. His body was stiff and he had " blotchy, purple lividity" on his face and his lower extremities. Id. at 326. C.T. was ...


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