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Kiama v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 15, 2017

Justice K. Kiama, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

         Pursuant to Ind. Appellate Rule 65(D), this Memorandum Decision shall not be regarded as precedent or cited before any court except for the purpose of establishing the defense of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or the law of the case.

         Appeal from the St. Joseph Superior Court The Honorable Jenny Pitts Manier, Judge The Honorable Julie Verheye, Magistrate Trial Court Cause No. 71D04-1604-CM-1881

          Attorney for Appellant Amy D. Griner

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr., Matthew B. Makenzie Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          MEMORANDUM DECISION

          Bradford, Judge.

          Case Summary

          [¶1] Appellant-Defendant Justice Kiama was shopping at a JC Penney store in Mishawaka on April 16, 2016. At some point, Kiama was asked to leave the store because he was swearing loudly in front of other customers. As he was leaving the store, Kiama continued to swear at the store employee who had requested that he leave the store, raised his shirt, and indicated that he was armed with a firearm. The store employee observed what appeared to be a handgun tucked in Kiama's waistband.

         [¶2] Kiama was subsequently charged with Class A misdemeanor intimidation. He was found guilty as charged following a bench trial. The trial court subsequently sentenced Kiama to thirty days with twenty-six days suspended. The trial court also placed Kiama on probation for 180 days.

         [¶3] On appeal, Kiama challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain his intimidation conviction. Concluding that the evidence is sufficient to sustain the challenged conviction, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

          [¶4] Kiama was shopping at a JC Penney store in Mishawaka on April 16, 2016, when he became concerned that his vehicle might have been stolen.[1] Kiama became visibly upset and began swearing loudly. Tony Slagle, a loss-prevention detective employed by JC Penney approached Kiama, attempted "to calm him down, " and offered to help him by notifying mall security of the possible auto theft. Tr. p. 6. Slagle also informed Kiama that he could not swear while he remained inside the store. Kiama then "got very agitated" and started swearing at Slagle. Tr. p. 6. Slagle asked Kiama to leave the store.

         [¶5] Slagle escorted Kiama out of the store. Once outside in the parking lot, Kiama turned back towards Slagle, screamed "I have a firearm" and "pulled up his shirt." Tr. p. 7. At this time, Slagle "saw what appeared to be a handgun in [Kiama's] waistband." Tr. p. 7. Slagle, who had been on the phone with mall security, immediately called 911. From a safe distance, Slagle observed Kiama wander around the parking lot until law enforcement arrived.

         [¶6] On April 18, 2016, Appellee-Plaintiff the State of Indiana ("the State") charged Kiama with Class A misdemeanor intimidation. The case proceeded to a bench trial on September 29, 2016. During trial, both Slagle and Kiama testified about their encounter. At the conclusion of trial, the trial court noted that the parties presented "two very different versions of the encounter that occurred at [the] JC Penney" store. Tr. p. 31. The trial court then proceeded to find Kiama guilty of the charged offense. In finding Kiama guilty of the charged offense, the trial court explicitly stated that it believed Slagle's testimony relating to his and Kiama's encounter. The trial court subsequently sentenced Kiama to thirty days with twenty-six days ...


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