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Jones v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

June 12, 2017

Ivan Jones, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal 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 Indianapolis, Indiana.

          BAILEY, JUDGE.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] After a bench trial, Jones was convicted of Battery, as a Level 5 felony.[1] He admitted to his status as a habitual offender.[2] Jones was subsequently sentenced to five years imprisonment, including a three-year habitual offender enhancement. He now appeals.

         [¶2] We reverse and remand.

         Issue

         [¶3] 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.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶4] 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.

         [¶5] 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.

         [¶6] 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.

         [¶7] 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.

         [¶8] 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.

         [¶9] 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 investigation report.

         [¶10] 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.

         [¶11] ...


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