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Leonard v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 26, 2017

Mark Leonard, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

         Appeal from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Sheila A. Carlisle, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 49G03-1303-FA-20360

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Susan D. Rayl Smith Rayl Law Office, LLC Indianapolis, Indiana.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Jodi Kathryn Stein Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

          MAY, JUDGE.

         [¶1] Mark Leonard appeals his conviction of Class A felony conspiracy to commit murder.[1] He presents two arguments for our review:

1. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted Exhibits 3 and 4 because the admission violated Leonard's right to counsel under Article 1, Section 13 of the Indiana Constitution; and
2. Whether it was fundamental error when the trial court admitted Exhibit 7, a letter containing a map to Mark Duckworth's house.

         We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] On November 10, 2012, a house in the Richmond Hill subdivision exploded. Leonard, who lived in the house, but was not home at the time, became a person of interest. During their investigation of Leonard, police spoke with Mark Duckworth, Leonard's longtime friend. Duckworth gave police information relevant to their investigation.

         [¶3] On December 21, 2012, police arrested Leonard in connection with the Richmond Hill explosion. The State charged Leonard with multiple crimes, including murder, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and arson ("Explosion Case"). The probable cause affidavit supporting these charges referenced Duckworth as "MD." (Ex. Vol. I at 221.)

         [¶4] While awaiting trial, Leonard was housed in Cellblock 4D of the Marion County Jail. Also in Cellblock 4D was Robert Smith, who went by the nickname "Smitty." (Tr. Vol. II at 13.) In the past, Smith had worked as an informant with the Marion County Sheriffs Department ("MCSD"). On March 4, 2013, Smith sent an envelope to his police contact, MCSD Deputy Corey McGriff. Deputy McGriff was out of town, so Sergeant Cory Grogg took possession of the envelope.

         [¶5] The envelope contained a letter and a map, and the envelope was marked, "Don't open without gloves on!" (Ex. Vol. I at 158.) The letter stated:

A friend of mine is in jail Because, of Mark Duckworth. He's running his jaws on Lynard, Gill, and all of Mark's friends.
Mark wants an accident to happen to Duckworth.
He doesn't want Duckworth to show up for court or show up at all. ©
He's telling on them now. He might tell on you next who knows.
Lynard will pay $15, 000 for this accident.
Mark is also drawing a map to show you were Duckworth lives. Its in closed.
After this accident happens let us know. Mark said he would pay the $15, 000 like this
Agree payment 180 days upon release.

(Id. at 159) (errors in original). The phrase "Agree payment 180 days upon release, " (id.), was in different handwriting than the rest of the letter, and there was a signature after that language. Also included was a map.

         [¶6] At trial, the envelope, letter, and map were admitted over Leonard's objection as Exhibit 7 ("Letter Exhibit"). Duckworth identified the handwriting inconsistent with the rest of the letter and the signature to be Leonard's handwriting and signature. He also testified the map enclosed with the letter was drawn in Leonard's handwriting, depicted the area in which Duckworth lived, and included information about a white Ford Explorer that Duckworth owned.

         [¶7] Sergeant Grogg contacted Detective Jeffrey Wager and Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson, who were both involved in the Richmond Hill explosion case. Detective Wager contacted Duckworth and then the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms ("ATF"). On March 7, 2013, ATF Special Agent Jeremy Godsave met with Robinson and Detective Wager, and the group formulated a plan "to try to corroborate the -- the [sic] threat of -- of [sic] the murder of Mark Duckworth." (Tr. Vol. III at 46.) The group decided Special Agent Godsave would pose undercover as a hitman named "Jay." (Id. at 47.) Special Agent Godsave provided Detective Wager a phone number to give to Smith, who would then deliver it to Leonard. The phone number was to be given to Leonard to "gauge his seriousness and see if he would actually call [Special Agent Godsave] as someone that he thought would be a hit man." (Id. at 48.)

         [¶8] On March 13, 2013, Leonard called "Jay" using Smith's jail phone PIN number. The call was recorded per standard jail procedure. He identified himself as "Mark, " a friend of "Smitty's." (Ex. Vol. I at 116.) Leonard indicated to "Jay" he drew the map "Smitty's old lady" gave to "Jay." (Id.) Leonard and "Jay" then discussed parts of the map and the area depicted on the map. Leonard told "Jay" he had known the person referenced on the map, "for 25 years, he's just blabbing like a mother fucker." (Id. at 125.) Leonard told "Jay" he wanted "this thing" done "[y]esterday." (Id. at 126.) The discussion of the act continued:

[Leonard]: See. I know it's hard -- I know it's hard to understand but like, um, if -- if -- if I was in your shoes and you know somebody was telling me and I looked at this situation, I'd have to scope it out too but -- like let me tell you on the -- on the scale of one to ten, how easy it will be? It'll be a, um--
["Jay"]: Yup.
[Leonard]: --It'll be a ten, it's that easy cause there nobody around there, you know?
["Jay"]: Yeah. You want a -- you want me to -- you want me to send a message or anything ...

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