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Murray v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

April 6, 2017

Aaron D. Murray, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

         Appeal from the Jackson Circuit Court The Honorable Richard W. Poynter, Judge, Trial Court Cause No. 36C01-1507-F4-22

          Attorney for Appellant R. Patrick Magrath Alcorn Sage Schwartz & Magrath, LLP Madison, Indiana.

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Larry D. Allen Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

          BAKER, JUDGE.

         [¶1] Aaron Murray appeals the sentence imposed by the trial court after Murray pleaded guilty to three counts of Level 4 Felony Child Molesting, [1] arguing that the sentence is inappropriate in light of the nature of the offenses and his character. Finding that the sentence is not inappropriate, we affirm.

         Facts

         [¶2] In 2015, forty-one-year-old Murray was employed as a math teacher at Seymour Middle School. During the 2014-15 school year, Murray was then-twelve-year-old K.B.'s math teacher.[2] Until that school year, K.B. had been an emotionally stable child who was a good student. During the 2014-15 school year, however, K.B. began to experience problems.

         [¶3] At that same time, K.B. became close to Murray, regularly staying after school for help with homework. After it was reported that K.B. was experiencing emotional turmoil, Murray spoke to K.B.'s mother and stated that he and his wife would spend time with K.B. Murray attended the same church as K.B. and her mother, and began sitting with K.B. at church and interacting with her there and at school. Murray also began taking K.B. to concerts and to engage in volunteer work, and he also began inviting her to stay overnight at his house. He regularly sent messages to K.B. and talked with her on the telephone.

         [¶4] In May 2015, Murray began spending even more time with K.B.; often, they spent hours at a time alone together. He began transporting K.B. to counseling sessions and even recommended to K.B.'s parents that they find a new counselor who would allow Murray to sit in on the sessions.

         [¶5] On June 15, 2015, Murray was alone with K.B. at his residence and kissed her. He attempted to use his tongue, but K.B. pulled away, and he apologized. Murray told K.B. that he was attached to her. K.B. later reported that this was her first kiss. A few days later, Murray left on vacation with his wife, and while he was away, he incessantly contacted K.B. through text, video, SnapChat, and Facebook messages. He told her that he loved her, that she was beautiful, that he needed her, and that it would not be long before they could be together again.

         [¶6] On June 28, 2015, Murray returned from vacation and K.B. went to his house to spend the day with him. He kissed K.B. while his wife was in the next room. He confessed what had happened to his wife, and she kicked him out of the house as a result. In the middle of the night on June 29, 2015, K.B. woke her mother and said she was going to talk to Murray outside. K.B. then left with Murray, who drove to a parking lot and began kissing her again-this time more intimately. When K.B. resisted, Murray told her it was okay. He drove her home around 4:00 a.m.

         [¶7] Later that same day, Murray returned to K.B.'s residence with gifts for K.B., again driving her to a parking lot later that afternoon. Eventually, they drove to an overlook where he kissed K.B., grabbed her breasts, and massaged his hand between her legs outside of her clothes. K.B. was uncomfortable and moved his hand away. He also moved her hand to stroke his penis outside of his clothing. He later told investigators that he "felt he should take it as far as he could with her." Appellant's App. Vol. III p. 24.

         [¶8] K.B.'s friend reported the molestations to K.B.'s parents, who reported it to the police. During their investigation, police officers noted that both Murray and K.B. had the same Facebook profile picture, which was a picture of the two of them. Even after the molestations were disclosed, Murray continued to contact K.B. regularly.

         [¶9] On July 16, 2015, the State charged Murray with three counts of Level 4 felony child molesting. A no contact order was put in place that prohibited Murray from contacting K.B. Notwithstanding the no contact order, while Murray was in jail awaiting trial, he contacted K.B. over fifty times by telephone, totaling over twenty hours of ...


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