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Blair v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 14, 2016

Kent R. Blair, Sr., Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Allen Superior Court The Honorable Wendy W. Davis, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 02D04-1511-F6-1094

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Donald C. Swanson, Jr. Deputy Public Defender Fort Wayne, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Gregory F. Zoeller Attorney General of Indiana Katherine Modesitt Cooper Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          ROBB, JUDGE.

         Case Summary and Issues

         [¶1] Following a bench trial, Kent Blair was convicted of invasion of privacy, a Level 6 felony, and criminal trespass, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced Blair to one and one-half years executed in the Indiana Department of Correction. Blair appeals his convictions and sentence, raising three issues for our review: (1) whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain his convictions, (2) whether the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing him, and (3) whether his sentence is inappropriate in light of the nature of the offenses and his character. Concluding the evidence is sufficient, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Blair, and his sentence is not inappropriate, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] Blair and his wife, R.B., lived together in a home in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The home had been deeded to each of them by Blair's father. In July 2014, an incident of domestic violence occurred between the couple. Thereafter, R.B. sought a protective order against Blair and also initiated divorce proceedings. On November 26, 2014, the trial court issued an ex parte order of protection against Blair, which prohibited Blair for the next two years from harassing, annoying, telephoning, contacting, or directly or indirectly communicating with R.B., and further ordered him to stay away from R.B.'s residence, school, and place of employment. Blair received notice of the order.

         [¶3] In July 2015, the dissolution court held a final hearing and later dissolved the couple's marriage; Blair did not appear at the hearing despite receiving notice. The dissolution decree awarded R.B. the home. On September 16, 2015, a court-appointed commissioner executed a quit claim deed thereby deeding the real estate to R.B.

         [¶4] At some point, R.B. moved out of her home, claiming, "I left for the safety of my life." Transcript at 12. R.B. left certain pieces of personal property in the home, including furniture, a wine collection, and jewelry. R.B. often returned to the property to check on the home and to collect her mail. In so doing, she observed several of her personal items, including those noted above, were missing.

         [¶5] On October 31, 2015, R.B. went to the home to retrieve some clothes and could not gain entry because the locks had been changed. Her son, A.B., and Blair were both inside the home, and when R.B. knocked on the door, they told her to leave and slammed the door in her face. R.B. demanded they leave her home, telling them it was her property and they were not allowed to be there; neither A.B. nor Blair obliged. R.B. then called law enforcement, and before law enforcement could arrive, Blair "took off running." Id. at 32.

         [¶6] A week later, R.B. returned to the property to collect her mail. Again, R.B. was unable to enter her home. In fact, some of the doors had been padlocked. R.B. called law enforcement. Upon arrival, law enforcement determined R.B. owned the home, and with R.B.'s permission, kicked in the front door to the home. Law enforcement discovered multiple sets of locks inside the home. Blair, who was inside the home, was arrested. In an interview following his arrest, Blair told law enforcement "the house was his, it was given back to him in his divorce papers, [and] that it had been in his family for generations . . . ." Id. at 47 (emphasis added). When asked to produce the divorce papers, Blair claimed R.B. had stolen them.

         [¶7] On November 13, 2015, the State charged Blair with two counts of invasion of privacy as Level 6 felonies ("Counts I and II"), and one count of criminal trespass as a Class A misdemeanor ("Count III"). At trial, R.B., three members of law enforcement, and Blair all testified. Specifically, Blair testified he believed the home was his and he had a right to be there. He further testified he never received any divorce papers. The trial court found Blair guilty as charged, merged Counts I and II, and entered judgment of conviction on Counts I and III. The trial court sentenced ...

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