Appeal from the St. Joseph Superior Court, No. 71D02-1201-MR-000002. The Honorable John M. Marnocha, Judge. On Direct Appeal from a Sentence of Life Imprisonment Without Parole.
FOR APPELLANT: Philip R. Skodinski, South Bend, Indiana.
FOR APPELLEE: Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana; Brian L. Reitz, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.
David, Justice. Rush, C.J., Dickson, Rucker, and Massa, J.J., concur.
Charles Moore was charged with the murders of Alejandro Tinoco and Jazmin Conlee. After Moore was found guilty of both murders, the jury recommended a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for the murder of Conlee. Moore was ultimately sentenced to sixty-five years for the felony murder of Tinoco and life without parole for the murder of Conlee. Moore appealed solely on the basis that there was insufficient evidence for his convictions. Specifically, Moore asserts that the incredible dubiosity rule should be applied. The incredible dubiosity rule allows the court to impinge upon the jury's assessment of witness credibility when the testimony at trial is so contradictory that the verdict reached would be inherently improbable. For the incredible dubiosity rule to apply, the evidence presented must be so unbelievable, incredible, or improbable that no reasonable person could ever reach a guilty verdict based upon that evidence alone. Moore argues the application of this rule is warranted because no reasonable jury could have found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt given the inconsistent testimony among three of the State's primary witnesses. We disagree. Here, direct and circumstantial evidence was presented through the testimony of multiple witnesses and the presentation of physical evidence. This evidence was sufficient for a reasonable jury to find Moore guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for both murders. Under the facts of this case, the incredible dubiosity rule is inapplicable, and the jury's verdict must stand. Moore's convictions and sentence are affirmed.
Facts and Procedural History
On January 25, 2012, South Bend Police Officer Joshua Morgan was dispatched to 1101 North Adams Street, where a reported shooting had occurred. Officer Morgan arrived at the scene at approximately 8:50 p.m., and other patrol officers had already arrived at the scene. Officer Morgan had to carefully open the front door when entering the house because one of the victims was lying just inside. The young man, later identified as Alejandro Tinoco, had been shot in the head. Although he was breathing, he was in critical condition. Upon entering the house, Officer Morgan also observed a female victim, later identified as Jazmin Conlee, who had also been shot and was sitting up against the wall behind a couch. Conlee was breathing but in critical condition as well. Both victims were taken to the hospital, where Tinoco was soon pronounced dead, and Conlee immediately underwent surgery. Although Conlee underwent multiple surgeries, it was determined that she would not recover from her wounds, and she was pronounced dead on February 8, 2012.
Both Tinoco and Conlee died as a result of gunshot wounds.
The police were able to discover the identity of four individuals who were suspected of being involved in these shootings. Those individuals were Jermon Gavin, Joseph Buti, Rakeem White, and Charles Moore. Gavin knew each of these men, but the others were not familiar with one another. Gavin was also a friend of Tinoco's. The events leading up to the shooting transpired with Gavin, Buti, and White meeting up to smoke marijuana. Gavin first picked up White, and after that picked up Buti. After smoking marijuana, the three went to pick up Moore. The four men discussed going to get more marijuana. Gavin knew that Tinoco sold marijuana and had purchased marijuana from him on prior occasions. Gavin drove the vehicle to Adams Street, where Tinoco lived. At some point during the drive, either Gavin or White passed something wrapped in a white cloth back to Moore.
After arriving at Tinoco's house, Buti walked onto the front porch and knocked on the door. Tinoco had a camera on the porch that displayed on a television inside who was at the front door. The camera only provided a live feed and did not record. When Buti arrived at the door and said his name, he was instructed to look at the camera. Tinoco then opened the door and started talking to Buti. Peter Kagimbi and Jazmin Conlee also lived at the residence and were inside when Buti arrived. Kagimbi was standing in the main room by the dining room table but saw Buti on the television screen. Tinoco asked Buti who he was and why he was there, and Buti explained that he was there to buy marijuana. When Tinoco refused to sell him marijuana, Buti started to leave. In the meantime, Moore had gotten out of the vehicle and approached the house. When Buti stepped outside onto the porch, he saw Moore rise up from behind the porch with a mask on and a gun. Buti kept walking away from the house, and when he turned around to see what was going on he saw Moore trying to force the door of the house open, while Tinoco was trying to close it. Kagimbi heard the struggle at the door, then heard a gunshot, and he immediately ran out of the back door of the house. Buti continued to watch from the sidewalk, and he saw Moore shoot Tinoco in the head. Moore pushed Tinoco inside the house, entered, and closed the door behind him.
Buti saw Kagimbi running out through the back and followed him. Kagimbi confirmed that when he ran out the back, he recalled seeing the same young man who he had seen on the television monitor at the front door. Kagimbi only later realized that the person on the television monitor could not have been the person who shot Tinoco and Conlee because the person he had seen at the door would not have been able to shoot both victims and already be outside following him in such a short amount of time.
Dimitri Johnson, a friend of Kagimbi's, also confirmed seeing two different individuals around Tinoco's house that night. Johnson was at the house because he had plans to meet up with Kagimbi. Johnson remembered seeing a light-skinned man near the house in a red or white jacket, and not long after he saw another man in dark clothing walk around his vehicle and onto Tinoco's porch. Johnson then heard two gunshots and saw Kagimbi run out of
the house. Johnson then saw the man in the dark clothes get into a gray or silver car that was parked near the house. That night, Gavin was driving his girlfriend's silver Pontiac Grand Prix.
Shortly after shots were fired, Gavin confirmed that Moore ran back to the car. Once in the car, Gavin saw Moore pass a gun to White. Gavin noticed that Moore was very sweaty, nervous, and out of breath when he returned. Gavin then received a phone call from Buti to come pick him up. When they arrived where Buti had run to, Buti said, " Man, he just ran in there and got to shooting people." (Tr. at 546.) Buti was seemingly talking about Moore. Buti got in the car and saw Moore with a large bag of marijuana. Buti recalled Moore rocking back and forth and saying, " I shot them, I killed everyone." (Tr. at 466.) At some point after, each of the four men went their separate ways. Gavin recalled that soon after he departed from Moore's company, Moore called him and threatened that the same thing that happened to Tinoco and Conlee could happen to them.
Meanwhile, Kagimbi had run to Tinoco's parents' house, told them what had happened, and Kagimbi called 9-1-1. Later that evening, Buti also called the police and told them he was a witness to the shooting. The police investigation ensued. Bloody shoe prints at the scene of the crime, DNA evidence on the floor mat of the vehicle Gavin was driving the ...