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Mardis v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 16, 2017

Keenan J. P. Mardis, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Elkhart Circuit Court The Honorable Terry C. Shewmaker, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 20C01-1502-MR-1

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Elizabeth A. Bellin Elkhart, Indiana.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Michael Gene Worden Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

          NAJAM, JUDGE.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] Keenan J.P. Mardis appeals his conviction for murder, a felony, following a jury trial. Mardis raises the following two issues for our review:

1. Whether the State presented sufficient evidence to support his conviction.
2. Whether the trial court committed fundamental error when it instructed the jury.

         [¶2] We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] On December 19, 2014, Mardis and others confronted Lenell Williams and Ontario Brown on Wagner Avenue in Elkhart, near the Washington Gardens apartments. One of Mardis' companions, Zirei Jackson, began to fight with Brown. During the fight, Mardis told Jackson to "take his belt when you knock him out." Tr. Vol. I at 139-40. Brown was wearing a designer belt worth about $300.

         [¶4] The fight between Jackson and Brown ended and the two groups began to walk away from each other. But then Mardis "came out of nowhere, " "pulled a revolver, " and "told [Brown] to give him his belt." Id. at 145. Brown refused. Mardis then shot Brown in the head and killed him.

         [¶5] The State charged Mardis with murder, a felony. At his ensuing jury trial, the court instructed the jury as follows, without objection from Mardis' counsel:

Under the law of this state, a person charged with a crime is presumed to be innocent. To overcome the presumption of innocence, the State must prove the Defendant guilty of each element ...

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