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Satterfield v. State

Supreme Court of Indiana

June 26, 2015

ANDREW S. SATTERFIELD, Appellant (Defendant),
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee (Plaintiff)

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Appeal from the Pike Circuit Court, No. 63C01-1112-FB-564. The Honorable Jeffrey L. Biesterveld, Judge. On Direct Appeal from a Sentence of Life Imprisonment Without Parole.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: Michael C. Keating, Yvette M. LaPlante, Keating & LaPlante, LLP, Evansville, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana; Henry A. Flores, Jr., Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Rush, Chief Justice. Dickson, Rucker, David, and Massa, JJ., concur.


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Rush, Chief Justice.

Andrew Satterfield brings this direct appeal to challenge his convictions and sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole (" LWOP" ) for murder and arson. Based on the LWOP sentence, we have mandatory and exclusive jurisdiction over this appeal. Ind. Appellate Rule 4(A)(1)(a). Satterfield presents three issues: that (1) the jury's decision not to find him insane or guilty but mentally ill is contrary to law; (2) the trial court abused its discretion by admitting testimony about his evasiveness during police questioning; and (3) his LWOP sentence is inappropriate under Rule 7(B) based on the nature of the offense and his character. We affirm in all respects.

Facts and Procedural History

Satterfield shot his mother, Kathy Satterfield, multiple times at their home in the early hours of December 8, 2011. He first shot her in their kitchen and kept shooting her as she fled into the bathroom. While she lay dying, Satterfield took a gasoline can and poured fuel around the house, locked the doors to the house, and lit it on fire. Satterfield stayed inside the house while it started burning, and he later claimed that his motive for starting the fire was to kill himself. But he changed his mind and decided to flee the house after sustaining serious burns. The fire destroyed much of his clothing; so, after escaping the inferno, he took off all his clothes except his underwear. Then--still wearing only his underwear despite the freezing temperatures--he drove to a gas station, pumped gas, and left without paying. Several hours later, Satterfield sought medical help for his burns at Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, Indiana. But due to the severity of his burns, Good Samaritan Hospital soon transferred Satterfield to Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis. During treatment at each hospital, Satterfield spoke about the murder and fire with multiple detectives. Additional facts will be provided.

The State charged Satterfield with murder, a felony; arson, a class B felony; and attempted arson, a class B felony. Ind. Code § § 35-42-1-1(1), -43-1-1(a)(1), -41-5-1(a) (2008). Satterfield conceded at trial that he killed his mother and burned down their home. But he defended on grounds he was not responsible by reason of insanity or was guilty but mentally ill. Testimony at trial included three expert witnesses along with lay witness testimony from law enforcement personnel who responded to the fire; nurses who treated Satterfield for his burns; family; and officers and detectives who interviewed him about the murder and fire. The jury found Satterfield guilty on all counts, rather than insane or guilty but mentally ill. The State sought LWOP because the murder occurred while committing arson. I.C. § 35-50-2-9(b)(1)(A). The jury recommended LWOP, and the trial court sentenced Satterfield accordingly. The trial court also merged the two arson convictions and sentenced Satterfield to a concurrent term of 20 years for arson. He appealed directly to this Court pursuant to Indiana Appellate Rule 4(A)(1)(a).

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Discussion and Decision

I. The Jury's Rejection of Satterfield's Mental-Health Defenses Was Not Contrary to Law.

There was conflicting evidence on whether Satterfield was insane or guilty but mentally ill. In these situations, we let juries--not courts--" weigh the evidence and assess witness credibility," Galloway v. State, 938 N.E.2d 699, 709 (Ind. 2010), and " determine whether the defendant appreciated the wrongfulness of his conduct at the time of the offense" or committed the offense while mentally ill. Myers v. State, 27 N.E.3d 1069, 1075 (Ind. 2015) (insanity); Hurst v. State, 699 N.E.2d 651, 653-54 (Ind. 1998) (guilty but mentally ill). Here, the jury weighed conflicting testimony and found Satterfield guilty. That decision was not contrary to law, and we therefore affirm the verdict.

The jury was instructed on four possible verdicts: " (1) guilty; (2) not guilty; (3) not responsible by reason of insanity at the time of the crime; or (4) guilty but mentally ill at the time of the crime." I.C. § 35-36-2-3. Each verdict is a legal determination, not a medical diagnosis. Defendants are insane when, " as a result of mental disease or defect," they are " unable to appreciate the wrong-fulness of th[eir] conduct at the time of the offense." I.C. § 35-41-3-6(a). A " mental disease or defect" means " a severely abnormal mental condition that grossly and demonstrably impairs a person's perception," but not " an abnormality manifested only by repeated unlawful or antisocial conduct." I.C. 35-41-3-6(b). Defendants are guilty but mentally ill if the jury finds they have committed the charged offense while " having a psychiatric disorder which substantially disturbs [their] thinking, feeling, or behavior and impairs [their] ability to function . . . including having any mental retardation." I.C. § 35-36-1-1. Defendants bear the burden to prove insanity or mental illness by a preponderance of the evidence. See I.C. § 35-41-4-1(b); Galloway, 938 N.E.2d at 717.

When a defendant challenges a jury verdict as contrary to law, as Satterfield does here, we grant " substantial deference" to the verdict because " the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the facts" " in all criminal cases." Ind. Const. art. 1, § 19. Because he appeals a negative judgment, Satterfield " faces a heavy burden." Galloway, 938 N.E.2d at 709. " [T]he conviction will only be set aside 'when the evidence is without conflict and leads only to the conclusion that the defendant was insane when the crime was committed,'" or guilty but mentally ill. Myers, 27 N.E.3d at 1074-75 (quoting Galloway, 938 N.E.2d at 710); Hurst, 699 N.E.2d at 653 n.4. Accordingly, we " will not reweigh evidence, reassess witness credibility, or disturb reasonable inferences made by the trier of fact." Myers, 27 N.E.3d at 1074 (quoting Galloway, 938 N.E.2d at 709). Rather, we " will consider only the evidence most favorable to the judgment and the reasonable and logical inferences to be drawn therefrom." Id. at 1075 (quoting Thompson, 804 N.E.2d at 1149).

The jury's right to determine the facts allows jurors to disbelieve expert testimony of a defendant's insanity or mental illness and rely instead on " other sufficient probative evidence from which a conflicting inference of sanity" or mental illness can reasonably be drawn. E.g., Myers, 27 N.E.3d at 1076 (quoting Galloway, 938 N.E.2d at 710); Hurst, 699 N.E.2d at 654. Demeanor evidence, lay opinion testimony, and the circumstances of the crime are just a few examples of the additional evidence that juries may consider and use to either accept or reject

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expert testimony--even when the expert testimony is unanimous. In Myers, we affirmed a defendant's guilty but mentally ill conviction and rejected his request to find him insane based on testimony " from victims and multiple eyewitnesses describing how the incident unfolded," notwithstanding unanimous expert testimony supporting insanity. 27 N.E.3d at 1076. And in Hurst, we affirmed a guilty-only verdict, rejecting a defendant's appeal for a guilty but mentally ill verdict, when expert testimony conflicted on whether the defendant suffered from a mental illness or was simply under the influence of LSD. 699 N.E.2d at 654.

Here, expert mental-health testimony and other probative evidence conflicted--as to his mental-illness diagnosis of schizophrenia specifically, and as to his sanity generally. Three experts offered conflicting diagnoses to explain Satterfield's mental health, with two finding schizophrenia but one finding his symptoms resulted from drug abuse and jail psychosis instead. Likewise, the evidence for insanity in this case was not compelling because neither of the two court-appointed experts who assessed Satterfield's sanity testified that Satterfield was insane at the time of the offense. Non-expert testimony was similarly inconsistent. It supported the inference that his actions during and after the fire were a product of a mental illness, but could just as easily supported an inference that he was acting deceitfully.

Of the three experts who testified, only two diagnosed schizophrenia: Satterfield's psychiatrist, Dr. Patrick Helfenbein, and court-appointed clinical psychologist Dr. David Cerling. Dr. Helfenbein treated Satterfield for approximately ten years and last saw him in March 2010. He stated with " a hundred percent certainty" that Satterfield was a chronic, paranoid schizophrenic and could not " imagine any other diagnosis that would fit." Several medical reports written by Dr. Helfenbein described Satterfield's symptoms of poverty of speech, flat affect, psychosis, paranoid ideation, and social withdrawal. And Dr. Helfenbein stood by his prior assessments that these symptoms supported a schizophrenia diagnosis. Although Dr. Helfenbein acknowledged that drug use and schizophrenia often go hand-in-hand, he strongly disagreed that drugs could explain Satterfield's symptoms: " I don't think [he's] a pothead--his condition was too intense. The delusions [were] too strong and . . . too consistent . . . to be a pothead."

Dr. Cerling concurred in Dr. Helfenbein's diagnosis. He reviewed Satterfield's past medical records and met with him on two occasions (though he did not review the videos of Satterfield's police interrogations). Dr. Cerling described Satterfield's responses to questioning during one of these interviews, conducted on August 16, 2012, as " just very, very vague, very little there." He also said Satterfield " acknowledge[d] at times hearing voices," and that sometimes the " voices were after him." In summarizing his impressions, Dr. Cerling said, " I was very comfortable with the diagnosis of schizophrenia as being the primary diagnosis that has impaired Mr. Satterfield's being able to function . . . on a day-to-day basis." Dr. Cerling also noted that Satterfield's records referenced substance abuse and ...

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