from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Mark D. Stoner,
Judge The Honorable Jeffrey Marchal, Magistrate Trial Court
Cause No. 49G06-1509-F5-32928
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Deborah Markisohn Marion County Public
Defender Agency Appellate Division Indianapolis, Indiana.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Christina D. Pace Deputy Attorney General
After a bench trial, Jones was convicted of Battery, as a
Level 5 felony. He admitted to his status as a habitual
offender. Jones was subsequently sentenced to five
years imprisonment, including a three-year habitual offender
enhancement. He now appeals.
We reverse and remand.
Jones raises a single issue for our review, which we restate
as whether the trial court committed reversible error when it
did not ask Jones directly whether he wished to exercise his
right of allocution at sentencing, instead making that
inquiry through counsel.
and Procedural History
On the night of September 11, 2015, Jones was walking along
the 3000 block of Rybolt Avenue in Indianapolis. Jones was
intoxicated to the point that his walk was unsteady, and he
was carrying a bottle containing an alcoholic beverage.
At around 11:00, Jones encountered four teenagers walking
down the street: Wesley Hardcastle ("Hardcastle"),
Tyler Pruitt ("Pruitt"), Hardcastle's
girlfriend, and another teenage girl. Jones approach the four
teenagers and began talking to them. At some point, Jones
made a statement that caused Hardcastle and Pruitt to
encourage their companions to go home.
Soon after this, Jones punched Hardcastle in the face,
striking Hardcastle in the lip and chin. Hardcastle punched
Jones back, striking Jones in the nose. Jones then pulled a
knife out of his pocket and stabbed Hardcastle's forearm,
causing a through-and-through wound. Hardcastle and Pruitt
ran to Hardcastle's girlfriend's home and called
police. Medics treated Hardcastle's arm and then
transported him to a hospital by ambulance.
When police arrived, Pruitt directed police to a house two
doors down, toward which he had seen Jones run. Jones's
mother permitted police inside. Police officers found Jones
wearing clothing with dried blood and in possession of an old
pocket knife that appeared to have dried blood on it. Jones
was subsequently arrested.
On September 15, 2015, Jones was charged with Battery, as a
Level 5 felony. On August 3, 2016, the State alleged that
Jones was a habitual offender.
On September 21, 2016, a bench trial was conducted on the
Battery charge. At the conclusion of the trial, the court
found Jones guilty as charged. The proceedings were then
bifurcated for purposes of obtaining a presentence
On October 19, 2016, a hearing was conducted during which
Jones admitted to being a habitual offender, in exchange for
which the State agreed to a maximum sentence enhancement of
three years to be added to whatever term of imprisonment the
court fixed for the Battery conviction. Prior to hearing
argument of counsel, the trial court asked counsel for Jones
whether Jones wished to exercise his right of allocution.
Jones's counsel said that Jones did not wish to make a
statement, and the court then heard argument of the parties
concerning sentencing. At the end of the hearing, the trial
court sentenced Jones to two years imprisonment for the
Battery charge, enhanced by the agreed-to three year term for
Jones's habitual offender status, yielding an aggregate
term of imprisonment of five years.