Brian L. Paquette, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff
from the Pike Circuit Court The Honorable Jeffrey L.
Biesterveld, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 63C01-1602-F3-373
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Mark A. Bates Schererville, Indiana
Thomas W.Vanes Merrillville, Indiana.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Tyler G. Banks Deputy Attorney General
VAIDIK, CHIEF JUDGE.
While high on methamphetamine and fleeing from police, Brian
Paquette collided with two other vehicles, killing three
people and seriously injuring another. The State filed nine
charges against Paquette with regard to the deceased victims:
three counts each of resisting law enforcement by fleeing in
a vehicle causing death, operating a vehicle with
methamphetamine in his blood causing death, and reckless
homicide. Paquette agreed to plead guilty to all nine charges
but reserved the right to argue that only one conviction and
sentence for resisting (the most serious charge, a Level 3
felony) should be entered because all three deaths resulted
from a single act of resisting. The trial court rejected that
argument and entered three convictions and three consecutive
sentences on the resisting counts (and merged the remaining,
lower-level counts). Paquette appeals, renewing his argument.
Because only one conviction is permissible under this
Court's longstanding interpretation of the
resisting-law-enforcement statute, we remand this matter to
the trial court with instructions to enter convictions for
operating a vehicle with methamphetamine in his blood causing
death (a Level 4 felony) as to two of the three deceased
victims and to resentence Paquette accordingly.
and Procedural History
On the night of February 12, 2016, Paquette was high on
methamphetamine and driving northbound in the southbound
lanes of I-69 near Petersburg. When Indiana State Trooper
James Manning tried to stop him, Paquette crossed the median
and began driving southbound in the northbound lanes. He
collided with a car occupied by Stephanie Molinet and Autumn
Kapperman and then with an SUV occupied by Jason and Samantha
Lowe. Molinet, Kapperman, and Jason Lowe died, and Samantha
Lowe was seriously injured.
The State charged Paquette with three crimes relating to each
of the deceased victims: resisting law enforcement by fleeing
in a vehicle causing death, a Level 3 felony; operating a
vehicle with methamphetamine in his blood causing death, a
Level 4 felony; and reckless homicide, a Level 5 felony. He
was also charged with operating a vehicle with
methamphetamine in his body causing serious bodily injury, a
Level 6 felony, with regard to Samantha Lowe, and possession
of methamphetamine, a Level 6 felony. Paquette agreed to plead
guilty on all of these charges but reserved the right to ask
the court to enter only one conviction and sentence for the
most serious charge, resisting law enforcement, because he
engaged in only one act of resisting. The parties briefed the
issue, and the trial court ruled that three separate
convictions and sentences are permissible. However, the court
also ruled that Paquette would have the right to appeal the
The court entered convictions on all three counts of
resisting law enforcement and on the charge of operating a
vehicle with methamphetamine in his body causing serious
bodily injury. The court merged the remaining counts (three
counts of operating a vehicle with methamphetamine in his
blood causing death, three counts of reckless homicide, and
possession of methamphetamine) into those four counts. The
court imposed the maximum sentence of sixteen years for each
count of resisting law enforcement and the maximum sentence
of two-and-a-half years for operating a vehicle with
methamphetamine in his body causing serious bodily injury,
all consecutive, for a total of fifty-and-a-half years.
Paquette now appeals.
Paquette contends that Indiana's
resisting-law-enforcement statute, Indiana Code section
35-44.1-3-1, allows only a single resisting conviction under
the facts of this case and that the trial court therefore
erred by entering three convictions and sentences against
him. The interpretation of a statute is a question of law
that we review de novo. State v. Smith, 71 N.E.3d
368, 370 (Ind. 2017). We agree with Paquette's reading of
the statute and remand this matter for the entry of a revised
judgment and sentence.
Subsection (a) of section 35-44.1-3-1 sets out the acts that
constitute the ...