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Woodruff v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

June 26, 2017

Travis L. Woodruff, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

         Appeal from the Hendricks Superior Court Trial Court Cause No. 32D02-1607-F1-1 The Honorable Rhett M. Stuard, Judge

          Attorney for Appellant Cara Schaefer Wieneke Wieneke Law Office, LLC Brooklyn, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Tyler G. Banks Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Crone, Judge.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] Travis Lee Woodruff appeals his sentence, following a jury trial, for level 3 felony aggravated battery and level 5 felony intimidation, which was enhanced based on the jury's findings that he is a habitual offender and that he used a firearm in the commission of the aggravated battery. He asserts that the trial court erred by applying both enhancements. Finding that there has not been a violation of the general rule against double enhancements, we affirm Woodruff's sentence. However, we remand with instructions that the trial court attach his habitual offender enhancement to the sentence for his aggravated battery conviction.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] Woodruff and Chad Gore were recent acquaintances. On the morning of July 6, 2016, Gore and two companions were asleep in a motel room in Hendricks County. A loud knock on the door awoke them. Gore directed one of his companions to open the door. Woodruff, also accompanied by two people, entered the room. Startled by the "aggressive commotion, " Gore arose and sat at the edge of the bed. Tr. Vol. 2 at 207. As tensions escalated, Gore's companions left the room.

         [¶3] Woodruff and his companions loudly accused Gore of either reporting them to the police on a prior occasion or being a police officer. Gore denied the allegations. Woodruff was not convinced, saying, "[Y]ou know here's how it's going to go, " as he wielded a .22-caliber revolver. Id. at 208, 210. Woodruff fired two shots that narrowly missed Gore. Woodruff's companions ran out of the room. Woodruff was standing "right in front of [Gore] . . . less than arm's reach." Id. at 233. Gore stood up and attempted to wrestle the revolver away from Woodruff. During the struggle, Woodruff shot Gore in the chest. Woodruff dropped the gun and fled the scene. Gore eventually received emergency medical attention for injuries to a few internal organs and a laceration on his head.

         [¶4] The State charged Woodruff with level 1 felony attempted murder, level 3 felony aggravated battery, level 5 felony battery by means of a deadly weapon, level 5 felony intimidation, and level 6 felony criminal recklessness. The State also alleged that Woodruff was a habitual offender and that he used a firearm in the commission of the aggravated battery, each of which is a basis for enhancing a defendant's sentence. Following a jury trial, Woodruff was found guilty of all charges except attempted murder. The jury also found that Woodruff was a habitual offender and used a firearm in the commission of the aggravated battery. The trial court vacated the guilty verdicts for battery with a deadly weapon and criminal recklessness due to double jeopardy concerns. The trial court imposed a fifteen-year sentence for the aggravated battery conviction and a concurrent two-year sentence for the intimidation conviction. The trial court enhanced Woodruff's sentence by a fifteen-year term for the habitual offender finding and a subsequent ten-year term for the use of a firearm, for an aggregate forty-year sentence. Woodruff now appeals.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶5] Woodruff's sole argument on appeal is that the trial court erred in applying both the habitual offender enhancement and the firearm enhancement to his sentence for aggravated battery. Claims of multiple sentencing enhancements are governed by statutory interpretation. Nicoson v. State, 938 N.E.2d 660, 663 (Ind. 2010). We review matters of statutory interpretation de novo because they raise pure questions of law. Id.

         [¶6] Woodruff contends that the trial court ordered what he characterizes as an impermissible double enhancement, citing Dye v. State, 972 N.E.2d 853 (Ind. 2012), aff'd on reh'g, 984 N.E.2d 625 (Ind. 2013). In Dye, our supreme court explained that three types of statutes authorize enhanced sentences for repeat offenders: the general habitual offender statute, specialized habitual offender statutes, and progressive-penalty statutes. Id. at 857. Generally, double enhancements are impermissible unless there is explicit legislative direction authorizing them. Id. at 856. When more than one of these types of statutes apply to the defendant at the same time, there are double enhancement issues. Id. at 857. Conversely, if not more than one of these types of statutes apply, then there is no double enhancement issue to review. Id.

         [¶7] In Dye, the court held that it was impermissible for the defendant's unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon conviction to be enhanced further by the general habitual offender statute. Id. at 858. On rehearing, the supreme court further clarified that the defendant's habitual offender enhancement was vacated not merely because the serious violent felon statute, a progressive-penalty statute, and the general habitual offender enhancement were simultaneously applied, but more precisely because the past felonious conduct used as the basis for the ...


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