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Willis v. State

Supreme Court of Indiana

March 24, 2015

DRAKKAR R. WILLIS, Appellant (Defendant below),
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee (Plaintiff below)

Appeal from the Marion Superior Court, Criminal Division, No. 49F25-1301-CM-004568. The Honorable Clark Rogers, Judge. On Petition To Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 49A02-1310-CR-854.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: Barbara J. Simmons, Oldenburg, Indiana; Ruth Johnson, Marion County Public Defender, Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana; Chandra K. Hein, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Rucker, Justice. Rush, C.J., and Dickson, David and Massa, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Rucker, Justice.

Drakkar R. Willis challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction

Page 1066

for Class A misdemeanor criminal trespass. We reverse.

Facts and Procedural History

Working the late shift on Friday, January 18, 2013, Officer Christopher Clouse of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was dispatched to the Watkins Family Recreation Center. A security alarm at the Center had been activated. While en route Officer Clouse received an additional dispatch declaring the alarm company reported hearing " [v]oices and noises" coming from inside the building. Tr. at 5. Arriving on the scene Officer Clouse observed a black male, later identified as Willis, " running in a field that was just west of the building," tr. at 7, about " a hundred yards away . . . ." Tr. at 6. Despite attempts by the State to suggest that the Officer observed Willis running out of the building,[1] the officer was explicit: " I didn't see him come out of the building, no, ma'am." Tr. at 7. In fact Officer Clouse testified that when he broadcast a description of the person he saw running in the field, he did not recall whether he said the individual was running through the field or running from the building. He opined however, " [i]t probably would have said . . . because I didn't see him come from the building. I probably would have said there's a subject running westbound in the field." Tr. at 8 (omission in original). In any event other officers arrived in the area apprehending and arresting Willis. Entering the Center, Officer Clouse observed that a vending machine had been broken into and glass-like items were strewn throughout the building. An Indianapolis Parks and Recreation supervisor testified that the Center closes at eight o'clock on Fridays and no one other than property managers or police officers have permission to enter the building after hours. Apparently Willis was neither.

On January 28, 2013, the State charged Willis with criminal trespass as a Class A misdemeanor. After a bench trial held on September 16, 2013, the trial court found Willis guilty as charged and subsequently sentenced him to 365 days in the Marion County jail with forty-five days suspended to probation. Willis appealed challenging the sufficiency of the evidence. In a divided opinion the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court. See Willis v. State, 13 N.E.3d 460 (Ind.Ct.App. 2014). Having previously granted transfer thereby vacating the Court of Appeals opinion, see App. Rule 58(A), we now reverse the trial court's judgment.

Discussion

We recite our familiar standard for reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence needed to support a criminal conviction. First, we neither reweigh the evidence nor judge the credibility of witnesses. Bailey v. State, 907 N.E.2d 1003, 1005 (Ind. 2009). Second, we only consider " the evidence supporting the judgment and any reasonable inferences that can be drawn from such evidence." Id. (quoting Henley v. State, 881 N.E.2d 639, 652 (Ind. 2008)). A conviction will be affirmed if there is substantial evidence of probative value supporting each element of the offense such that a reasonable trier of fact could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. " It is the job of the fact-finder to ...


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