from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Christina
Klineman, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 49G17-1508-F6-30930
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Valerie K. Boots Indianapolis, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Gregory F. Zoeller Attorney General of
Indiana Lyubov Gore Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis,
OF THE CASE
Appellant-Defendant, Sauntio A. Carter (Carter), appeals his
conviction for battery resulting in bodily injury, a Class A
misdemeanor, Ind. Code § 35-42-2-1(b)(1), (c).
Carter raises two issues on appeal, which we consolidate and
restate as the following single issue: Whether there is
sufficient evidence to sustain Carter's conviction for
battery resulting in bodily injury.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On August 24, 2015, Carter observed that his
fourteen-year-old daughter, M.C., had altered her eyebrows.
When Carter questioned M.C. about this, she initially denied
that she had made any changes to herself. However, M.C.
eventually admitted the truth. As punishment for her
dishonesty, Carter confiscated M.C.'s cellphone. After
taking possession of M.C.'s cellphone, Carter checked his
daughter's social media accounts and was very upset by
what he discovered. M.C. had posted photographs of herself
wearing only "her panty and bra, " and "she
was talking to boys, [trying to] . . . like actually offer
herself to them." (Tr. p. 33). In conjunction with these
photographs, M.C. had published their address, as well as her
grandmother's address, online.
The next day, August 25, 2015, M.C. woke up and readied
herself for school while Carter was still asleep. Before
walking out the door, M.C. retrieved her cellphone and
grabbed a pair of Carter's shoes. When Carter awoke, he
discovered that M.C. had taken her cellphone without
permission. Carter walked to the bus stop, where he observed
M.C. listening to music on her cellphone and wearing his
shoes. Carter informed M.C. that she had disrespected him and
that they needed to return home "to take [his] shoes
off" because his feet are bigger "and she was
looking like a clown." (Tr. p. 35).
Although M.C. resisted at first, she eventually heeded
Carter's demands to walk home with him. On the way,
Carter, who was still upset by the content of M.C.'s
social media accounts, broke M.C.'s cellphone. M.C.
threatened to run away, to which Carter responded by stating
that he would call the police to bring her back. M.C. also
responded that she would call the police over her broken
phone. When they arrived home, there is no dispute that
Carter determined that it was necessary to discipline M.C.
However, Carter and M.C. offered varying accounts as to the
extent and severity of the punishment.
According to Carter, when they arrived home, Carter
instructed M.C. to start cleaning the apartment while he
called his father to discuss M.C.'s behavior. While on
the phone with his father, Carter was also "telling
[M.C.] how she was doing me [sic] and how wrong she
was what she was doing and I was telling her the consequences
and I told her, that I was going to discipline [her]
physically." (Tr. p. 36). Based on the fact that M.C.
was fourteen years old, Carter determined that he was
"going to discipline her [fourteen] times." (Tr. p.
36). Carter instructed M.C. "to bend over and touch the
couch." (Tr. p. 36). Instead, Carter described that M.C.
"jumped up off the couch and she raised her hand up at
me." (Tr. p. 37). Still on the phone, Carter's
father advised him to go take a shower before punishing M.C.
so that he would be "level headed." (Tr. p. 37).
Carter stated that after he showered, he spanked M.C.
fourteen times with his belt.
On the other hand, according to M.C., as soon as they arrived
home from the bus stop, Carter directed her "to take off
my sweater and everything and my shoes that I had on and
stuff. I still had on clothing and stuff and . . . he had
told me, he was like bend over the couch." (Tr. p. 7).
Carter started hitting her with his belt on her back, legs,
and buttocks. She stated that he shoved her against a wall
and pressed his forearm across her neck to the point that it
was "hard to breathe in air." (Tr. p. 9). After
hitting her again with the belt, Carter ordered her to clean
the entire apartment. When M.C. finished cleaning, Carter
asked her whether she wanted "the whooping now or
later" and she "said later." (Tr. p. 10).
Carter then showered. When he returned, Carter "hit
[M.C.] a couple times" and then had a conversation with
her "[a]bout stuff [she] should have did
[sic]." (Tr. p. 10). After their conversation,
Carter continued with "the rest of this whooping."
(Tr. p. 11). Even though M.C. begged for a reprieve of
"two second[s]" or "two minutes, " Carter
told her to "take it like God did when they beat
him." (Tr. p. 11). Also, at one point, M.C. stated that
she had balled up her fist, and even though she claimed that
she "wasn't going to hit him, " Carter saw it
and smacked her across the face. (Tr. p. 13). M.C. stated
that it hurt when Carter hit her with his belt "because
he was hitting [her] with all his force." (Tr. p. 11).
M.C.'s younger brother was home at the time; however, he
did not witness any of the punishment. When M.C. returned to
school on August 26, 2016, she informed her guidance
counselor that her "arm was hurting." (Tr. p. 17).
The guidance counselor observed a bruise on M.C.'s
shoulder and inquired as to what happened. After gleaning
some details of the incident from M.C., the guidance
counselor informed the school nurse about the situation and
contacted the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS). The
nurse provided M.C. with ice packs to treat her pain. A DCS
assessment worker arrived at the school and took photographs
of bruises on M.C.'s body, which she opined to be the
result of being hit with a belt. M.C. sustained bruises to
her buttocks, inner and outer thigh, upper arm, forearm, and
On August 31, 2015, the State filed an Information, charging
Carter with Count I, strangulation, a Level 6 felony, I.C.
§ 35-42-2-9(b); and Count II, battery resulting in
bodily injury, a Class A misdemeanor, I.C. §
35-42-2-1(b)(1), (c). On October 14 and 21, 2015, the trial
court conducted a bench trial. At the close of the evidence,
the trial court entered a judgment of conviction for battery
resulting in bodily injury, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial
court found Carter not guilty of strangulation. Immediately
thereafter, the trial court sentenced Carter to 114
days-i.e., his time already served with applicable
Carter now appeals. Additional facts will be ...