Michael T. Shoun, Appellant (Defendant below),
State of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff below).
from the Elkhart Superior Court, No. 20C01-1311-MR-000007 The
Honorable Terry C. Shewmaker, Judge
Direct Appeal from a Sentence of Life Imprisonment Without
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Donald R. Shuler Barkes, Kolus, Rife
& Shuler, LLP Goshen, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Angela N. Sanchez Deputy Attorney General
found defendant guilty of murdering his 17-year-old
girlfriend and recommended a sentence of life without parole.
The trial court entered judgment accordingly. In a direct
appeal, defendant now challenges his sentence arguing that:
1) the trial court committed fundamental error because it
should have sua sponte determined that he had an
intellectual disability, precluding a life without parole
sentence, even though his trial counsel withdrew the petition
to determine whether he had said disability; 2) his sentence
is unconstitutionally disproportionate pursuant to Article 1,
Section 16 of the Indiana Constitution; and 3) his sentence
is inappropriate pursuant to Indiana Appellate Rule 7(B). In
light of the facts and circumstances of this case, we hold
that the trial court did not commit fundamental error, that
defendant's sentence is proportional considering the
severe nature of the crime and that defendant's sentence
is not inappropriate in light of the nature of the crime and
his character. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court.
and Procedural History
November 2013, Michael Shoun was dating Tiana Alter, who was
17 years old at that time. Shoun was approximately 8-9 years
older than Alter and had been dating her since she was 13.
Alter lived with Shoun's sister, Aeirel. Shoun was
supposed to be residing in a work release facility as part of
his sentence for a class C felony being a habitual traffic
offender conviction; however, Shoun was a fugitive from the
facility and was staying in Alter's room at his
Alter and Shoun used synthetic drugs. Alter would fall into a
deep sleep as a result of her drug use, while Shoun would
become paranoid as a result.
November 2, 2013, several members of Shoun's family
gathered at Aeirel's home for a small party, including
Shoun's cousin, Michael Lewis. Aeirel was not home, and
while Shoun and Alter were there, they spent most of the time
in Alter's room with the door shut, apparently smoking
Shoun came out of the bedroom, Lewis noticed blood on him.
Lewis asked Shoun why he was bleeding and Shoun indicated
that it was not his blood. Fearing something bad had
happened, Lewis then asked to be let into the room. At about
the same time, Aeirel returned home and heard a loud noise,
like someone being thrown into the wall. She came out to the
hallway to find Lewis asking Shoun to be let into the room.
let into the room, Shoun saw Alter rolled up inside carpet
that had been pulled up from the floor. He saw and smelled a
large amount of blood. He shook Alter's shoulder and
called out her name, but she did not respond; she was cold to
told Lewis he needed help to get rid of the body and then
started talking about satellites, the devil and empires.
Lewis told the others that Alter was dead and he and Aeirel
decided to leave the home. Aerial called 911 and reported
that she believed her brother killed his girlfriend.
police arrived at the home, they found Shoun in the basement
throwing and breaking things. Shoun told police not to come
downstairs, but when they did, they found him sitting against
the wall with a shirt covering his hands. Shoun told police
to leave or else "it's going to blow up." (Tr.
372.) After multiple officers arrived and drew their weapons,
Shoun eventually complied and ...