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Shinnock v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 9, 2017

Andy A. Shinnock, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Delaware Circuit Court, The Honorable Kimberly S. Dowling, Judge.

          Attorney for Appellant Jack Quirk

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr., J.T. Whitehead Deputy Attorney General

          Sharpnack, Senior Judge

         Statement of the Case

          [¶1] Andy A. Shinnock appeals his conviction of bestiality, a Level 6 felony.[1] We reverse and remand.

         Issue

         [¶2] Shinnock's sole issue on appeal is whether the trial court erred by admitting his confession because the State's evidence did not establish the corpus delicti of the crime.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] In August 2015, Shinnock resided with Paul Moore and Moore's two dogs in Muncie. One morning when Moore returned home from work, he called the dogs, but they did not respond. Moore called the dogs a second time, and only the male dog responded. Moore noticed dog feces on the floor and dog food scattered about. He then called for the female dog by name. When she still did not respond, Moore opened the door of Shinnock's bedroom. The female dog ran out of the bedroom and went under the couch. Moore noticed that Shinnock was wearing boxer shorts and a t-shirt and had an erection. Moore confronted Shinnock who admitted to attempting to have sex with Moore's dog. Moore then called the police. When the investigating officer arrived and questioned Shinnock, Shinnock admitted to having sex with the dog.

         [¶4] Based upon this incident, the State charged Shinnock with bestiality. A bench trial was held, at which defense counsel objected several times. During Moore's testimony, defense counsel objected to the admission of Shinnock's statement to Moore based upon the lack of corpus delicti. The court overruled the objection. Defense counsel then asked for a continuing objection due to the lack of corpus delicti. Although the court overruled the objection, it granted defense counsel's request for the record to show a continuing objection. Defense counsel also objected on the basis of lack of corpus delicti to Exhibits 7, 8 and 9, which are recordings of Shinnock's confession to Moore, Moore's 911 call, and Shinnock's confession to the investigating officer, respectively. These objections were also overruled by the court. Defense counsel again lodged a corpus delicti objection to the testimony of the investigating officer concerning Shinnock's statement to him, and, as before, the court overruled the objection. The trial court found Shinnock guilty but mentally ill. He now appeals this conviction.

         Discussion and Decision

          [¶5] The trial court is afforded wide discretion in ruling on the admissibility of evidence. Nicholson v. State, 963 N.E.2d 1096, 1099 (Ind. 2012). On appeal, evidentiary decisions are reviewed for abuse of discretion and are reversed only when the decision is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances. Id.

         [¶6] In Indiana, a person may not be convicted of a crime based solely on a nonjudicial confession of guilt. Green v. State, 159 Ind.App. 68, 304 N.E.2d 845, 848 (1973). Rather, independent proof of the corpus delicti is required before the defendant may be convicted upon a nonjudicial confession. Id. Proof of the corpus delicti means "proof that the specific crime charged has actually been committed by someone." Walker v. State, 249 Ind. 551, 233 N.E.2d 483, 488 (1968). Thus, admission of a confession requires some independent evidence of commission of the crime charged. Workman v. State, 716 N.E.2d 445, 447 (Ind. 1999). The independent evidence need not prove that a crime was committed beyond a reasonable doubt but merely provide an inference that the crime charged was committed. Malinski v. State, 794 N.E.2d 1071, 1086 (Ind. 2003). The purpose of the corpus delicti rule is to prevent the admission of a confession to a crime which never occurred. Hurt v. State, 570 N.E.2d 16, 19 (Ind. 1991). Further, we note that the order of the ...


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