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Wilson v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

April 30, 2015

Donnell D. Wilson, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff,

Appeal from the Lake Superior Court. The Honorable Salvador Vasquez, Judge. Cause No. 45G01-1303-MR-4.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: P. Jeffrey Schlesinger, Mark A. Bates, Appellate Public Defender, Crown Point, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana; Monika Prekopa Talbot, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Bradford, Judge. Vaidik, C.J., and Kirsch, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 1265

Bradford, Judge.

Case Summary

[¶1] On March of 2013, Jonte Crawford and Appellant-Defendant Donnell Wilson shot and killed two rival gang members. During Wilson's trial, the trial court allowed Appellee-Plaintiff the State of Indiana to enter into evidence several Twitter posts allegedly authored by Wilson which indicated that he was involved in gang activity and was in possession of handguns similar to those used in the murders. A jury convicted Wilson of two counts of murder, Class B felony armed robbery, and Class D felony conspiracy to commit criminal gang activity. Following the convictions, the court proceeded to the second phase of the trial to determine whether Wilson's sentence would be enhanced for criminal gang activity. Immediately after closing arguments were heard, Wilson erupted into an argument

Page 1266

with individuals in the gallery, struggled with the bailiffs, and was removed from the court and excluded from trial until the sentencing hearing. The jury found that Wilson's murder and robbery convictions should be enhanced for criminal gang activity.

[¶2] Wilson raises three issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court properly admitted the Twitter messages into evidence; (2) whether Wilson's conviction for conspiracy to commit criminal gang activity should be vacated as being in conflict with his criminal gang activity enhancements; and (3) whether the trial court properly excluded Wilson from a portion of trial. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand to the trial court with instructions.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶3] In March 17, 2013, fifteen-year-old Pecolla Crawford was walking home with her brother Jonte Crawford, their cousin Jordan Hendrix, and Wilson, who was dating Pecolla at the time. (Tr. 62-3) Hendrix was in town visiting and staying with Pecolla and Jonte. (Tr. 144) While the group was walking, they encountered fifteen-year-old Derrick Thompson, at which point Jonte and Wilson began harassing and intimidating Thompson, flashing the guns they were carrying, and asking Thompson what part of town he was from. (Tr. 37, 148) Wilson was carrying a silver .357 revolver and Jonte had a black handgun. (Tr. 37, 149) Jonte then told Thompson to give him his phone and Wilson made a reference to Tre 7, a local gang, and grabbed Thompson's Dre Beats headphones off of his head. (Tr. 37-40, 69) The two then left Thompson and continued walking with Pecolla and Jordan.

[¶4] The group then encountered brothers Shaqwone Ham and Charles Wood. (Tr. 72) Jordan, who was friends with the brothers, exchanged greetings and continued walking with Pecolla. (Tr. 73) Pecolla then heard Jonte and Wilson begin to argue with the brothers. (Tr. 73) Wilson said, " Y'all looking for me? I'm in your hood." Tr. p. 153. A couple seconds later, Wilson shot Wood in the head. (Tr. 74, 153) As Ham attempted to run, Jonte shot him several times. (Tr. 153) Both Ham and Wood died as a result of their injuries. Shortly after the incident, police received calls from Thompson and a nearby resident who witnessed the shooting. (Tr. 57, 206-7) Jonte and Wilson were subsequently arrested and Thompson's phone and headphones were recovered from Jonte at the police station. (Tr. 471-72)

[¶5] Ham and Wood were members of the Dolla Boys gang, which was a subset of the larger Bottom Side gang. (Tr. 80, 161, 191-2) Wilson was part of several interrelated gangs including the Get Fresh Boys, Tre 7, and Glen Park Affiliated, all of which were at odds with the Bottom Side gangs. (Tr. 82, 151, 516) Wilson had posted several gang related comments on his Twitter account including, " up for da bottom," referring to people from Bottom Side, " Tre 7 got da mac[1]," " Yea ima freshboy but im riding thru da bottom," and " Claim da bottom u get whacked." State's Exs. 13, 30, 31, 48. On March 12, 2013, Wilson tweeted " [If I] see a dolla he betta duck," state's ex. 25., and on the day of the murders, he tweeted, " GlenPark or get shot!!!" State's Ex. 20.

[¶6] On March 20, 2013, the State charged Wilson with two counts of murder, Class B felony armed robbery, and later amended the charging information to include Class D felony conspiracy to commit criminal gang activity. (App. 14, 20) Additionally, the State sought criminal gang

Page 1267

sentencing enhancements for the murder and robbery charges. (App. 22)

[¶7] After Wilson's arrest and prior to trial, Wilson shared a cell with Israel Wiggins at the Lake County Jail. (Tr. 401) Wilson told Wiggins that he shot Ham and Wood because they were from Bottom Side. (Tr. 405) Wilson also told Wiggins that he belonged to the Get Fresh Boys gang and that he had had disputes on Twitter with people from the Bottom Side area of Gary. (Tr. 406-07) Wilson also told Wiggins that he had used a " .38 Special" in the shooting. Tr. p. 408. Wilson and some fellow inmates later jumped Wiggins because he was from the opposite side of Gary. (Tr. 409-10) After this, Wiggins was moved to the fourth floor of the jail where he met Jonte. (Tr. ...


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