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State v. Battering

Court of Appeals of Indiana

September 28, 2017

State of Indiana, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
Brandon Battering, Appellee-Defendant.

         Interlocutory Appeal from the Pulaski Circuit Court The Honorable Michael A. Shurn, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 66C01-1512-F1-3

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Angela N. Sanchez Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE Mark K. Leeman Leeman Law Office and Cass County Public Defender Logansport, Indiana.

          BRADFORD, JUDGE.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] In late 2015, Appellee-Defendant Brandon Battering was accused of sexually molesting his then-twelve-year-old step-sister and sending her an explicit message on Facebook. The instant interlocutory appeal stems from the trial court's order granting Battering's motion to suppress certain pre-trial statements made by Battering to investigating officers. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] According to the allegations supporting the charges filed in the underlying criminal case, on November 29, 2015, the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department received a report that Battering had engaged in unlawful sexual behavior with and sent a sexually explicit Facebook message to his then-twelve-year-old stepsister, B.R.[1] On December 3, 2015, Battering voluntarily appeared at the Lafayette Police Department and participated in a lengthy interview with Pulaski County Sheriff's Deputy Nicolas Bowyer and Lafayette Police Department Detective-Sergeant Robert A. Goldsmith. During the lengthy interview with Deputy Bowyer and Detective-Sergeant Goldsmith, Battering discussed, among other things, the allegations made by B.R. Battering initially denied B.R.'s allegations.

         [¶3] At one point during the lengthy interview, Battering indicated that he was "p[*****] off" and was "done with answering questions right now[.]" Appellant's App. Vol. II-Confidential, pp. 169, 170. Immediately after making this statement, Battering told Detective-Sergeant Goldsmith that "You guys done p[*****] me off and have me in a bad a[**] mood now." Appellant's App. Vol. II-Confidential, p. 170. Detective-Sergeant Goldsmith continued to talk to Battering after Battering indicated that he did not wish to answer any more questions. Eventually, at Detective-Sergeant Goldsmith's urging and direction, Battering continued on with the interview. By the end of the interview, Battering made incriminating statements in which he admitted to some, but not all, of B.R.'s allegations.

         [¶4] The next day, on December 4, 2015, Appellant-Plaintiff the State of Indiana ("the State") charged Battering with one count each of Level 1 felony child molesting, Level 4 child molesting, and Level 5 felony child solicitation. On January 13, 2017, Battering filed a motion to suppress the pre-trial statements he made during his interview with Deputy Bowyer and Detective-Sergeant Goldsmith. The trial court conducted a hearing on Battering's motion on January 19, 2017. The next day, on January 20, 2017, the trial court issued a written order granting Battering's motion to suppress.

         [¶5] Also on January 20, 2017, the State moved to have the trial court's order certified for interlocutory appeal. The State's request was granted that same day. The State subsequently requested that this court accept jurisdiction over the matter, which we did on March 17, 2017. This interlocutory appeal follows.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶6] The State contends that the trial court erred in granting Battering's motion to suppress the statements he made during the December 3, 2015 interview with Deputy Bowyer and Detective-Sergeant Goldsmith. It is well-settled that when an individual "'indicates in any manner, at any time prior to or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease.'" Washington v. State, 808 N.E.2d 617, 623 (Ind. 2004) (quoting Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 173-74 (1966)). "An assertion of Miranda rights must be clear and unequivocal, and in determining whether a person has asserted his or her rights, the defendant's statements are considered as a whole." Clark v. State, 808 N.E.2d 1183, 1190 (Ind. 2004). "Although there are no particular words of legal magic to cut off questioning, a suspect must do more than express reluctance to talk" in order to invoke his right to remain silent. Powell v. State, 898 N.E.2d 328, 337 (Ind.Ct.App. 2008). Review of whether an individual has invoked his right to remain silent is "intensely fact-sensitive." Id. (citing Haviland v. State, 677 N.E.2d 509, 514 (Ind. 1997)).

         [¶7] Approximately half way through Battering's lengthy interview with Deputy Bowyer and Detective-Sergeant Goldsmith, Battering stated "Honestly, I'm done with answering questions right now, honestly." Appellant's App. Vol. II- Confidential, p. 170. After Detective-Sergeant Goldsmith responded "Okay, " Battering went on to say "You guys done p[*****] me off and have me in a bad a[**] mood now." Appellant's ...


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