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Baumholser v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 14, 2016

Adam K. Baumholser, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Vanderburgh Circuit Court The Honorable Kelli E. Fink, Magistrate Trial Court Cause No. 82C01-1305-FA-539

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Matthew J. McGovern Anderson, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Gregory F. Zoeller Attorney General of Indiana Michael Gene Worden Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          OPINION

          MAY, JUDGE.

         [¶1] Adam K. Baumholser appeals his convictions of three counts of child molesting, [1] one as a Class A felony and two as Class C felonies. As the admission of certain character evidence and forensic interviewer testimony was not fundamental error, and as Baumholser's sentence was neither inappropriate nor an abuse of discretion, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] Baumholser and A.L. married in January 2006. A.L.'s daughter from a previous relationship, K.C., was four years old at the time of the marriage. In August 2007, Baumholser and A.L. had a son. Baumholser and A.L. divorced in 2009 when K.C. was eight years old.

         [¶3] In February 2013, K.C. disclosed to her mother and grandmother that Baumholser molested her on five separate occasions in 2007 when she was six years old. Following her disclosure, K.C. took part in a forensic interview. The State charged Baumholser with four counts of child molestation, two as Class A felonies and two as Class C felonies, for crimes committed on separate occasions.

         [4] At trial, K.C. testified she did not immediately report the molestations as she feared Baumholser, because "[h]e was a lot bigger than me and my mom and he drank a lot and he had weapons in the house." (Tr. at 63.) Baumholser did not object to her testimony. The forensic interviewer, Molly Elfreich, testified "most of the time [disclosure of a crime by a child] is delayed in some way." (Id. at 121.) Baumholser also did not object to this testimony.

         [¶5] The jury found Baumholser guilty of one Class A felony and two Class C felonies. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on one of the Class A felony charges, and the State dismissed it.

         [¶6] At sentencing, the trial court noted as a mitigator that Baumholser had no prior felony convictions. The trial court found as aggravators that Baumholser had been in a position of trust and care and he "is being sentenced for three separate counts[.]" (Id. at 279.) The trial court sentenced him to thirty-two years executed on the Class A felony and four years each on the Class C felonies, all to be served concurrently.

         Discussion and Decision

         Admission of Evidence

         [¶7] Baumholser argues the erroneous admission of character evidence and prior misconduct evidence, together with vouching testimony, denied him a fair trial. We typically review rulings on the admission of evidence for an abuse of discretion. Pavlovich v. State, 6 N.E.3d 969, 975 (Ind.Ct.App. 2014), trans. denied. An abuse of discretion occurred if the trial court misinterpreted the law or if its decision was clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances before it. Id.

         [¶8] Baumholser did not object at trial to the evidence about which he now complains on appeal. Failure to object at trial waives the issue on review unless fundamental error occurred. Halliburton v. State, 1 N.E.3d 670, 678 (Ind. 2013). Fundamental error is an extremely narrow exception that applies only when the error amounts to a blatant violation of basic principles, the harm or potential for harm is substantial, and the resulting error denies the defendant fundamental due process. Matthews v. State, 849 N.E.2d 578, 587 (Ind. 2006). The claimed error must be so prejudicial to the rights of a defendant as to make a fair trial impossible. Taylor v. State, 717 N.E.2d 90, 93 (Ind. 1999). Ind. Evidence Rules 404(a) and 404(b)

         [¶9] Baumholser asserts fundamental error occurred when the State introduced evidence that Baumholser "drank a lot and [] had weapons in the house, " (Tr. at 63), thus painting him as a "drunken, armed menace who intimidated K.C. into suppressing her secret." (Appellant's Br. at 24.) Baumholser claims this was inadmissible character ...


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