from the Lake Superior Court Criminal Division 1, No.
45G01-1412-F5-42 The Honorable Salvador Vasquez, Judge
Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT P. Jeffrey Schlesinger Office of the
Public Defender Crown Point, Indiana Mark A. Bates
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Katherine M. Cooper Andrew A. Kobe Deputy
Attorneys General Indianapolis, Indiana
crime has a story. But when that story is told at trial, each
part must be admissible under Indiana's Rules of
Evidence-simply being part of the story is not enough. We
thus reiterate today our holding from over twenty years ago:
res gestae-the common-law doctrine that made
evidence admissible when it was part of a crime's
story-is no more.
Summer Snow carried a handgun as she battered Officer Terry
Peck and resisted law enforcement. Though she was not charged
with a firearm-related offense, the State introduced her gun
into evidence at trial. Without res gestae as
grounds for admission, our question becomes whether the gun
is admissible under Indiana's Rules of Evidence. We hold
that it is. The trial court acted within its discretion in
finding the gun relevant to Snow's aggressive state of
mind and in determining that the danger of unfair prejudice
did not substantially outweigh that relevance. We affirm the
and Procedural History
November morning, before daybreak, Summer Snow was fighting
with her boyfriend, Reginald Harris. She called the police
twice during the fight, but cancelled each call before anyone
responded. She eventually kicked Harris out of her house, and
he took refuge in the driveway in the back seat of her car.
Snow tried to kick him out of her car as well, calling the
police for a third time when he refused to leave.
Officer Terry Peck arrived, he asked Harris to step out of
the car. Harris refused, so Peck tried to remove
him-resulting in a scuffle where Harris pulled Peck into the
car and hit him repeatedly. Snow then began shouting,
disparaging Officer Peck and encouraging Harris to beat him
Peck eventually handcuffed Harris and placed him in the back
of a patrol car, but Snow continued screaming at both Peck
and Harris. Peck asked for her identification and, when she
refused to show it, cautioned her to stop shouting and go
inside the house or else she would go to jail for disorderly
conduct. He then heard the house door open and shut and
assumed Snow had gone inside. But she soon stormed back out,
resuming the stream of shouting.
three more warnings, Snow screamed "I dare your b****
a** to arrest me." Officer Peck then tried to arrest
her, but she tucked her hands under her sweatshirt. He
managed to grab one of her wrists, leading her to punch him,
hit his shoulders, and scratch his chin. As they continued to
struggle, she jumped on him and began biting his shoulder
close to his neck. Finally, Officer Peck restrained Snow
and-as he handcuffed her-felt something hit his knee and boot
and heard it land on the ground. As Officer Peck soon
learned, that something was a gun.
State charged Snow with two counts of Level 5 felony battery
against a public safety official, and one count each of Level
6 felony resisting law enforcement and Class B misdemeanor
disorderly conduct. It charged Harris with Level 5 felony
battery against a public safety official and Level 6 felony
resisting law enforcement. Neither Harris nor Snow was charged
with a gun-related offense.
and Snow each filed a motion in limine to stop the State from
referring to Snow's gun at trial. They argued that
because Officer Peck learned about the gun only after
arresting Snow, the State was merely speculating about the
gun's relevance; therefore, the danger of unfair
prejudice substantially outweighed any probative value under
Indiana Rule of Evidence 403. The State responded that
because Snow may have gone into the house to get the gun, it
was relevant to show "some sort of aggression." The
trial court agreed with the State that the gun was
"significantly probative of the defendant's
action" and her "aggressive manner, " and held
that "403 gives the balance in favor of the State"
because the prejudice from the gun did not substantially
outweigh that relevance.
ensuing joint jury trial, the same attorney represented both
Snow and Harris. The State introduced the gun into evidence
over Harris and Snow's objection, using it to argue that
because Snow was carrying the gun, she-not Officer Peck-was
the aggressor. And because Snow was not licensed to carry the
gun, the State used it to cast doubt on her testimony that
she had it to protect herself on a trip to the gas station.
Snow responded that she was not carrying the gun that day,
but left it in her car. Because of this argument, the trial
court instructed the jury that "[a] person may carry a
handgun without being licensed if the person carries [it] . .
. in or on property that is owned, leased, rented, or
otherwise legally controlled by the person."
jury found Snow guilty of one count of Level 5 felony battery
against a public safety official and one count of Level 6
felony resisting law enforcement, and acquitted her of the
other two counts. It found Harris guilty as charged. Both
defendants appealed, now with separate attorneys, challenging
the gun's admission at trial. The State responded that