from the Cass Superior Court The Honorable Richard, Maughmer,
Judge Trial Court Cause No. 09D02-1605-F5-20
Attorney for Appellant Mark K. Leeman Leeman Law Office and
Cass County Public Defender
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Larry D. Allen Deputy Attorney General
Summary and Issue
Following a bench trial, Allison Nickels was found guilty of
domestic battery, a Level 6 felony, and interference with
reporting of a crime, a Class A misdemeanor. Nickels appeals,
raising one issue for our review: whether the trial court
erred by denying her an opportunity to present a closing
argument. Concluding the trial court committed reversible
error in denying Nickels her right to present closing
argument before a verdict was announced, we reverse and
and Procedural History
In May of 2016, Nickels was living with her ex-husband,
Everett, and their two children when she and Everett became
embroiled in a fight. As a result, the State charged Nickels
with domestic battery, a Level 6 felony for committing the
offense in the presence of a child under the age of sixteen;
and interference with reporting of a crime, a Class A
misdemeanor. On February 9, 2017, the parties appeared
for a bench trial. Nickels' ex-husband and the police
officer who responded to the scene testified for the State;
Nickels testified on her own behalf. Everett testified he was
helping the parties' seven-year-old daughter get ready
for school when Nickels, seeming irritated, entered the room.
After they argued briefly, Nickels struck Everett in the face
with her fists. Everett told Nickels he was going to call the
police and exited their daughter's bedroom. Nickels
followed Everett into the hallway and struck him on the back,
pulled his ears, and headbutted him in the face. She also
knocked the cellphone from his hands, causing the battery to
fall out. After Everett retrieved the battery and put his
phone back together, he left the house and called police.
Nickels admitted she struck Everett but testified it did not
occur in the presence of their daughter. She also denied
touching Everett's cellphone at any time.
After the parties rested their cases, the following occurred:
The Court: Okay. Argument?
[State]: Your Honor, I think there is plenty of . . .
The Court: You are right there is.
[State]: With regard to the battery taking place in front of