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Evans v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

September 29, 2017

Deangelo Evans, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

         Appeal from the Grant Superior Court The Honorable Dana J. Kenworthy, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 27D02-1602-F4-8

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Jerry T. Drook Marion, Indiana.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Matthew B. Mackenzie Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

          PYLE, JUDGE.

         Statement of the Case

         Deangelo Evans ("Evans") appeals the sentence imposed after he pled guilty to three counts of Level 4 felony operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing death, [1] one count of Level 6 felony operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury, [2] and one count of Level 6 felony criminal recklessness.[3] [4] He specifically contends that his thirty-eight and one-half (38½) year aggregate sentence is inappropriate in light of the nature of the offenses and his character. Because we conclude that Evans' sentence is not inappropriate, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         [¶1] We affirm.

         Issue

         The sole issue for our review is whether Evans' sentence is inappropriate.

         Facts

         [¶2] At approximately 5:00 a.m. on February 21, 2016, seven Manchester University students were returning from a visit with friends at Ball State University when the front driver's side tire blew out on their van while they were in the far-left northbound lane of I-69 in Grant County. The driver safely maneuvered the van to the left shoulder of the interstate and turned on the van's hazard lights. The students then exited the van to stand in the median where they thought they would be safe while a few of them attempted to change the tire. The students included Kirubel Hailu ("Hailu"), Brook Dagnew ("Dagnew"), Nerad Mangai ("Mangai"), and Israel Timire ("Timire"), who were all exchange students from Africa.

         [¶3] About 30 minutes later, other drivers observed Evans driving erratically in the northbound lane of I-69 in Delaware and Grant Counties. He nearly struck two vehicles as he straddled the rumble strips, accelerated rapidly, passed vehicles while driving 70-85 miles per hour, and was "back and forth all over the road." (Tr. 46). Shortly after two motorists called 911 to report Evans' dangerous driving, Evans careened off the interstate and into the median at 70 miles per hour, striking and killing Hailu, Dagnew, and Mangai. The collision was so violent that Hailu's left arm was severed. Dagnew was nearly torn apart at the waist and his intestines spilled out of his open gut. Several of the victims were also in a state of undress as a result of the impact. Timire was seriously injured in the collision.

         [¶4] Although Evans' van suffered extensive damage, Evans was initially unaware of the accident and did not stop his vehicle until further down the interstate when he felt wind blowing through his broken windshield. When police officers interviewed Evans later that afternoon, he admitted that before the accident he had been at a party in Indianapolis and had consumed alcohol, smoked marijuana, and taken alprazolam. He did not remember that he had driven into the median of the interstate and denied seeing hazard lights on the students' disabled van. He also claimed that he did not understand why the victims' van was on the left side of the road and attempted to shift blame toward the victims instead of himself. Lab tests showed that Evans' blood alcohol content was 0.119.

         [¶5] The State charged Evans with three counts of Level 4 felony operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing death, three counts of Level 5 felony reckless homicide, one count of Level 6 felony operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury, and one ...


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