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Shinnock v. State

Supreme Court of Indiana

June 27, 2017

Andy A. Shinnock, Appellant (Defendant below),
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff below).

         Appeal from the Delaware Circuit Court, No. 18C02-1508-F6-117 The Honorable Kimberly S. Dowling, Judge

         On Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 18A05-1606-CR-1258

          Attorney for Appellant Jack Quirk Muncie, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana J.T. Whitehead Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          David, Justice.

         Defendant appealed his bestiality conviction arguing that the State failed to establish the corpus delicti of the offense, rendering evidence of his confessions inadmissible. Finding that the State presented independent evidence that provided an inference that Defendant committed bestiality, we hold that defendant's confessions were admissible. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court.

         Facts and Procedural History

         In August 2015, Paul Moore and Andy Shinnock were roommates in Muncie, Indiana. Moore's two dogs, a female pit bull named Baby Girl and a male Labrador Retriever mix named Cosmo, lived with them. One morning, Moore returned home from work, and neither of his dogs were waiting to greet him at the door like they usually did. Moore called for them. Cosmo eventually came to him, but Baby Girl did not. Moore noticed the apartment was messy. That is, there was dog feces all over the floor and dog food scattered about. This was also unusual. Moore opened the door to Shinnock's room. Baby Girl came out and ran underneath the couch.

         Moore observed Shinnock in his room, wearing his boxer shorts and with an erection. When Moore asked Shinnock why his dog was locked inside of Shinnock's bedroom, Shinnock admitted to Moore that he tried to have sexual contact with the dog. Moore called police. When police arrived and asked for Shinnock's version of events, Shinnock admitted he had sex with Moore's dog.

         At a bench trial and over Shinnock's objection, the trial court admitted evidence of Shinnock's statements to both Moore and the police. The trial court found Shinnock guilty (but mentally ill) of Bestiality, a Level 6 Felony. Shinnock appealed, arguing the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted evidence of his admissions of guilt, in violation of the corpus delicti rule.

         In a published opinion, the Court of Appeals reversed Shinnock's conviction holding that the State was required to prove penetration of the dog's sex organ by a male sex organ before it could admit Shinnock's statement into evidence. The State seeks transfer, which we now grant, vacating the Court of Appeals opinion. Ind.App. Rule 58(A).

         Standard of Review

         The trial court is afforded wide discretion in ruling on the admissibility of evidence. Nicholson v. State, 963 N.E.2d 1096, 1099 (Ind. 2012). On appeal, evidentiary decisions are reviewed for abuse of discretion and are reversed only when the decision ...


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