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McGraw v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

November 2, 2016

James L. McGraw, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Marion Superior Court Trial Court Cause No. 49G17-1509-F5-32010 The Honorable James B. Osborn, Judge

          Attorney for Appellant Darren Bedwell Marion County Public Defender Agency - Appellate Division Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Gregory F. Zoeller Attorney General of Indiana Monika Prekopa Talbot Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Bradford, Judge.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] At some point prior to September of 2015, Appellant-Defendant James McGraw and Kirsten Lance were involved in a romantic relationship. On September 6, 2015, Lance, accompanied by her mother, went to McGraw's residence to remove Lance's belongings. While at McGraw's residence, Lance and McGraw argued about the removal of certain possessions. At some point during this argument, McGraw struck Lance in the face with the back of his hand. This contact was observed by other witnesses at the scene.

         [¶2] On September 9, 2015, Appellee-Plaintiff the State the Indiana ("the State") charged McGraw with two counts of Level 5 felony battery resulting in bodily injury to a pregnant woman and one count of Class A misdemeanor domestic battery. Eventually, the case proceeded to a bench trial, during which the trial court found Lance to be an unavailable witness and struck her testimony. Following conclusion of the State's case-in-chief, McGraw moved for dismissal of the charges pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 41(B) ("Trial Rule 41(B)"). The trial court granted McGraw's motion, allowed the State to proceed on the lesser-included offense of Class A misdemeanor battery, and found McGraw guilty of this lesser-included offense. The trial court then sentenced McGraw to a term of 365 days, with sixty-five of those days suspended.

         [¶3] On appeal, McGraw contends that because the trial court's sentencing order reflects that the original charges were dismissed, but does not designate that the dismissal of the charges constituted an adjudication of the charges on the merits, the sentencing order must be amended to clearly reflect as such. The State argues that no amendment to the sentencing order is necessary. Concluding that no correction to the sentencing order is necessary, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶4] At some point prior to September of 2015, McGraw and Lance were engaged in a romantic relationship. During at least part of this time, Lance resided with McGraw at his residence. After the relationship ended, Lance asked her mother to go with her to McGraw's residence to retrieve some personal belongings. Lance indicated that she wanted to do so while McGraw was not present.

         [¶5] On September 6, 2015, Lance, who was pregnant, and her mother went to McGraw's residence. Shortly after entering McGraw's residence, Lance exited the residence carrying a television, which she loaded in her mother's vehicle. Lance then went back inside McGraw's home to collect certain other items. At the time, there was a great deal of commotion on the street outside McGraw's residence as members of the Indianapolis Fire Department had responded to a nearby unrelated incident.

         [¶6] While Lance was inside collecting other items, McGraw returned home. McGraw inquired as to why the television was in Lance's mother's vehicle. Lance's mother responded "if it's yours, take it … I don't want any part of it if it's yours." Tr. p. 141. McGraw then removed the television from Lance's mother's vehicle and placed it in his own.

         [¶7] About that time, Lance exited McGraw's residence with a rolling laundry basket which appeared to be full of women's clothing and a twelve-pack of Pepsi. McGraw approached Lance and the two began to argue. During this argument, the laundry basket was knocked over and its contents spilled onto the street. Also during this argument, McGraw struck Lance in the face with the back of his hand. At least one of the firefighters who had responded to the nearby unrelated incident observed the confrontation between McGraw and Lance and contacted police. When Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officers Brenda Fekkes and Calvin Tipton arrived at the scene, they observed that McGraw had gone inside his residence and Lance, who still appeared to be upset, had blood on the inside of her mouth. Officers Fekkes and Tipton then placed McGraw under arrest.

         [¶8] Three days, later, on September 9, 2015, the State charged McGraw with two counts of Level 5 felony battery resulting in bodily injury to a pregnant woman and one count of Class A misdemeanor domestic battery. McGraw's jury trial was scheduled to begin on December 3, 2015. During voir dire, McGraw interrupted the proceedings by standing up and angrily complaining about the trial, his attorney, and the complaining witness. As a result of McGraw's actions, the trial court declared a mistrial, held McGraw in direct ...


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