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Edmonds v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 26, 2017

Matthew Edmonds, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

         Appeal from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Grant W. Hawkins, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 49G05-1506-F3-20232

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Ruth Ann Johnson Victoria L. Bailey Marion County Public Defender Appellate Division Indianapolis, Indiana

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

          MAY, JUDGE.

         [¶1] Matthew Edmonds appeals his convictions of one count of Level 3 felony resisting law enforcement resulting in the death of another person[1] and two counts of Level 5 felony resisting law enforcement resulting in serious bodily injury to another person.[2] He asserts the State did not present sufficient evidence he was still resisting law enforcement when he caused death and serious bodily injury.[3] We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] On the morning of June 8, 2015, Edmonds was observed shoplifting in the Beech Grove Wal-Mart. The Asset Protection Manager notified the police of the theft after Edmonds left the store. In response to a police dispatch, Beech Grove Police Officer Josh Hartman went to the Wal-Mart parking lot and identified the vehicle Edmonds had entered. Beech Grove Police Officer Darrin McGuire also responded to the dispatch, but he waited outside the Wal-Mart parking lot. After Officer Hartman pulled in behind Edmonds' vehicle, but before Officer Hartman could activate his lights and siren, Edmonds drove away "at a high rate of speed." (Tr. Vol. II at 124.)

         [¶3] Both officers pursued Edmonds with their police lights and sirens activated. Edmonds was traveling at "seventy-five, 80, " (id. at 127), miles per hour in a forty mile-per-hour zone, running red lights, and driving on the wrong side of the streets. As they approached a hill with a blind spot, the officers turned off their lights and sirens but continued to watch "in case [Edmonds] hit somebody else . . . to provide safety until the medics get there[.]" (Id. at 129.)

         [¶4] On the other side of the hill, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department ("IMPD") Lieutenant Donald Bender, who had been monitoring the communications regarding the chase, saw Edmonds and, activating his lights, started to follow him. Officers Hartman and McGuire followed suit once they cleared the hill. Shortly after, however, they encountered a school bus and again terminated the chase as too dangerous to the public.

         [¶5] The officers momentarily lost track of Edmonds but continued to search for him. Edmonds "came out of the alleyway and almost t-boned [IMPD Officer William Bueckers]." (Id. at 192.) Edmonds accelerated away from Officer Bueckers. Without speeding or activating his lights and siren, Officer Bueckers followed Edmonds. Officer Bueckers estimated Edmonds was going "80, 90 miles an hour at least." (Id. at 196.)

         [¶6] Other officers had lined up on Edmonds' projected trajectory to attempt to keep the streets clear and avoid the possibility he might harm others. However, Edmonds ran a red light and hit a truck in the intersection. Edmonds exited his vehicle and ran away on foot. IMPD Sergeant David Gard witnessed Edmonds hit the truck and leave his vehicle. Sergeant Gard intercepted Edmonds as he "jumped over the fence and fell right in front of [Sergeant Gard's] car." (Tr. Vol. III at 17.) Sergeant Gard ordered Edmonds "to get on the ground." (Id.) Eventually, Edmonds complied and was taken into custody.

         [¶7] Donna Niblock, the driver of the truck, was killed when Edmonds hit her truck. Her daughter, Ladonna, and grandson, Johnathan, were seriously injured. The State charged Edmonds with nine other charges, in addition to the three resisting law enforcement charges, including: Level 5 felony reckless homicide, [4]Level 5 felony driving while suspended resulting in the death of another, [5] two counts of Level 6 felony driving while suspended resulting in bodily injury, [6]Level 5 felony failure to remain at the scene of an accident with death, [7] two counts of Level 6 felony failure to remain at the scene of the accident with injury, [8] Class A misdemeanor theft, [9] and Class B misdemeanor failure to remain at the scene of an accident.[10] The jury found him guilty of all charges.

         [¶8] After the jury returned, Edmonds filed a motion for judgment on the evidence on the three charges of driving while suspended because the State did not present sufficient evidence to support the jury verdict. The trial court dismissed those charges. The trial court merged the charge of Level 3 felony resisting law enforcement causing the death of another person with the charge of Level 5 felony reckless homicide. Edmonds was sentenced to an aggregate term of twenty-five years on the remaining eight charges: fifteen years for the Level 3 felony resisting law enforcement causing the death of another person; five years each for two Level 5 felony resisting law enforcement resulting in serious bodily injury, to be served consecutive to the Level 3 felony sentence; 180 days for the Class B misdemeanor failure to remain at the scene of an accident, to be served concurrent with the Level 3 felony sentence; and one year each for all remaining counts, to be served concurrent with the Level 3 felony sentence.

         Discussion ...


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