Lance E. Brown, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff
from the Wayne Superior Court The Honorable Charles K. Todd,
Jr., Judge, Trial Court Cause No. 89D01-1412-F5-104
Attorneys for Appellant Susan D. Rayl Indianapolis, Indiana,
Michael Ray Smith Fishers, Indiana.
Attorneys for Appellee Gregory F. Zoeller Attorney General of
Indiana Lyubov Gore Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis,
Lance E. Brown ("Brown") was convicted in Wayne
Superior Court of battering a public safety officer, a Level
6 felony, by resisting the entry into his Richmond home by
two officers ("the Officers") of the Richmond
Police Department ("RPD"). Brown appeals his
conviction as unsupported by evidence sufficient to rebut his
affirmative defenses of self-defense and defense of his
dwelling, and challenges the trial court's interpretation
of applicable statutes.
and Procedural Posture
On December 23, 2014, Brown owned a home in Richmond,
Indiana, which he was in the process of renovating. Brown
kept a large stock of valuable material used in the
renovation stored in his house and in a freestanding garage
at the edge of his back yard. The neighborhood had a good
deal of crime and poverty. Brown, having repelled several
break-in attempts in the past, including one on the day in
question, was wary of trespassers.
Across a narrow alley from Brown's back yard, Savannah
Moore ("Moore") and Matt Smith ("Smith")
were renting a home together, the back yard of which faced
Brown's. They had recently moved in and not yet met
Brown. On December 23, 2014, between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.,
Moore was alone in her back yard, cleaning up trash scattered
by her dogs. Moore noticed that Brown was observing her from
his property across the alley. "Do you need
something?" asked Moore. "Do you need
something?" countered Brown. "No, " said
Moore, and continued her work. Tr. p. 13.
Hearing voices outside, Smith came out of the house and
joined Moore, his girlfriend at the time, in the clean-up
effort. Smith grew irritated at Brown's surveillance.
"What's your problem, man?" Smith asked Brown.
Id. at 14. A heated argument followed. Brown,
unaware of Smith and Moore's recent occupancy, accused
the pair of trespassing to their property and his, which they
"Come across the alley, " said Brown. "You
want me to come across the alley?" asked Smith.
"Yeah, " replied Brown, "I do. I've got
something for you. I'll blow your brains out."
Id. at 17. Alarmed, Moore told Brown she would call
the police. "Go ahead, " Brown laughed.
Id. at 32. Having reported several break-ins to the
RPD without satisfying results, Brown had little expectation
the department would respond.
During this confrontation, each side stayed on their
respective properties. Brown never advanced toward Moore or
Smith, or made any physically threatening gesture. However,
Brown kept at least one hand in his pants pocket throughout.
From this fact and from Brown's threat, Moore suspected,
but never observed, that Brown was concealing a gun as he
spoke with her. As promised, Moore went inside with Smith and
called the police.
Sometime after sunset, RPD Officer David Spradling
("Spradling") responded to Moore's report,
first interviewing Moore and Smith at their home. Spradling
heard from Moore that she had been threatened, that she was
upset by Brown's words, conduct, and demeanor, and that
she suspected he had been armed during their confrontation.
Spradling left Moore's residence intending to hear
Brown's account and achieve a peaceful resolution to the
dispute. By then, it was evening and very dark.
As he approached Brown's front door, Spradling was joined
by RPD Officer Jonathan Huth ("Huth"). Huth wore a
body camera he had purchased privately and used on his own
initiative. The Officers stood on Brown's unlit
porch, Spradling in front and Huth behind, the only light
coming from a table lamp in the living room of Brown's
home and the Christmas lights of neighboring homes. Spradling
knocked on the front door without announcing himself.
"What's this guy's deal?" Huth asked
Spradling as they waited for Brown to receive them.
State's Ex. 1 00:21. Spradling briefly relayed to Huth
the substance of Moore's report, including her suspicion
that Brown was armed.
Through Brown's glass storm door and half-glass front
door, Spradling observed Brown come down a flight of stairs
while Huth scanned the area behind them. The stairs descended
from right to left, from the Officers' perspective, and
ended just a few feet from the front door. Brown's right
side was therefore hidden from the Officers' view as he
approached. "He's got his hand behind his back,
" Spradling told Huth. Id. at 00:32.
Brown opened the front door, holding open the storm door with
his left hand while resting his right behind the door jamb,
out of the Officers' view. "What do you have behind
your back there, sir?" asked Spradling. Id. at
00:39. "Nothing, " Brown replied. "It's
lying on the counter right now and it's a .357"-a
popular caliber of handgun. Id. at 00:42. "Why
don't you show me your hands, " said Huth, nearly
before Brown had finished his sentence. Id. at
00:46. Brown, without complying, began to reply, but Huth
immediately interrupted him, his voice rising: "Hands