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Thrash v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

November 21, 2017

Nathaniel Thrash, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable David Hooper, Magistrate Trial Court Cause No. 49G25-1509-F6-34723.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Ruth Ann Johnson Indianapolis, Indiana Matthew D. Anglemeyer Indianapolis, Indiana.

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

          RILEY, JUDGE

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         [¶1] Appellant-Defendant, Nathaniel Thrash (Thrash), appeals his conviction for two Counts of resisting law enforcement, as a Class A misdemeanor, and as a Level 6 felony, Ind. Code § 35-44.1-3-1(a)(1).

         [¶2] We affirm.

         ISSUES

         [¶3] Thrash presents three issues on appeal, which we restate as the following:

(1) Whether the trial court abused its discretion by admitting certain evidence;
(2) Whether the State presented sufficient evidence to support Thrash's Level 6 felony resisting law enforcement conviction; and
(3) Whether Thrash's conviction for two Counts of resisting law enforcement violated the prohibition against double jeopardy under the Indiana Constitution.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         [¶4] At approximately 7:00 p.m. on September 29, 2015, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers Christopher Cooper (Officer Cooper) and Derek Jackson (Officer Jackson) were dispatched to an apartment building located at 3640 North Meridian Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. Upon arriving, the officers encountered a woman who identified herself as Thrash's ex-girlfriend. Thrash's ex-girlfriend was visibly upset and she explained to the officers that Thrash was not supposed to be there, and she believed Thrash had a pending warrant of arrest. Moments later, the officers made eye contact with Thrash, and saw him run west in the common hallway and toward the back of the building. Thrash, however, did not exit the apartment building.

         [¶5] Thrash's ex-girlfriend allowed the officers inside the building, and the officers pursued Thrash in the direction he ran. When the officers reached the end of the hallway, they observed a stairwell leading to dark hallway basement that had numerous locked doors. While going down to the basement, the officers had their guns drawn and flashlights on. In addition, the officers loudly announced their presence by stating, "POLICE!" (Transcript p. 44). While Officer Jackson was searching the laundry room at the base of the staircase, Officer Cooper proceeded down the narrow hallway. There, Officer Cooper came across Thrash standing in a dark corner. Thrash's hands were in his coat pockets. Officer Cooper yelled several times, "[S]how me your hands!" but Thrash did not comply. (Tr. p. 76). Upon hearing the commotion in the back, Officer Jackson joined Officer Cooper. Both officers ordered Thrash, on multiple occasions to show them his hands, but Thrash did not obey their commands. As such, Officer Cooper holstered his gun, approached Thrash, and forcefully grabbed his right arm in an attempt to remove Thrash's hands from his coat pocket. Officer Jackson did the same for Thrash's left arm. Thrash, however, flexed his muscles and jerked his arms away. Based on Thrash's resistance, Officer Cooper effectuated a "leg sweep, " which brought Thrash down to the ground. (Tr. p. 79). While lying on the ground, Thrash refused to remove his hands from underneath his body. The officers bent over and restrained Thrash's hands. As Officer Jackson got Thrash off the ground, he saw Officer Cooper bent over and Officer Cooper was experiencing pain in his back. Thrash thereafter voiced to Officer Jackson that he was sorry for resisting arrest, and for Officer Cooper's injury.

         [¶6] On September 30, 2015, the State filed an Information, charging Thrash with Count I, resisting law enforcement, a Level 6 felony; and Count II, resisting law enforcement, a Class A misdemeanor. A jury trial was held on January 26, 2016. On the morning of Thrash's jury trial, the trial court conducted a suppression hearing pursuant to Thrash's motion to exclude the officers' hearsay testimony regarding his ex-girlfriend's statement that Thrash had a pending warrant of arrest. Both Officers Cooper and Jackson testified, and reiterated the hearsay statement over Thrash's objection. At the close of the suppression hearing, Thrash's counsel expressed to the trial court that he had no issue with the officers' hearsay testimony, so long as their testimonies left out the warrant aspect. Thrash's counsel was concerned that the "warrant aspect" would be "too toxic, " and was "worried the jury is going to hear that [Thrash] has a warrant and just shut down." (Suppression Tr. p. 27). Following Thrash's argument, the trial court ruled as follows:

Now Officers, [I] need you both listen to me very carefully, State already said what you're going to be allowed to say. I'm going to order over the Defense objection on a limiting instruction. When the jury is in here and you're testifying you can say that she said she doesn't want him here. . . .
****
And that she told you she thinks he has a warrant. Alright. We can't get into her head while she's not here, so the fact that she said he has a warrant I'm not going to even say that that's true. So you can say that she expressed to you that she thought he had a warrant. Okay. I don't want to hear a word about wanted for escape. I don't want to hear a word about anything else that she said or I will mis-try (sic) this thing. Alright. Now this is a pretty close call, but I'm using my discretion. State, I'm going to order you to prepare that limiting instruction. I'm going to order that that be given as well. We're showing [Thrash's] objection. Don't forget to object during trial to preserve it, Defense. Don't forget to object during trial, too, when we get to that point. So be very careful, [o]fficers. Because I am, again, using my discretion under the rules of evidence to let some things in here but it is, it is concerning. Okay.

(Suppression Tr. p. 28). After the jury was empaneled and sworn in, Thrash's trial proceeded. Officer Cooper testified that he had been dispatched to Thrash's ex-girlfriend's building to investigate a disturbance call. Officer Cooper then stated what Thrash's ex-girlfriend had reported to him, but Thrash's counsel interjected. During a side bar, Thrash's counsel renewed his objection regarding what Thrash's ex-girlfriend reported as hearsay. Upon ...


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