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McGowan v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 13, 2017

Tanesha McGowan, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Kurt Eisgruber, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 49G01-1403-FC-14835

          Attorney for Appellant David Becsey Zeigler Cohen & Koch Indianapolis, Indiana.

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Laura R. Anderson Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

          Brown, Judge.

         [¶1] Tanesha McGowan appeals her convictions for three counts of neglect of a dependent as class C felonies. She raises one issue which we revise and restate as whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain her convictions. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] James Loynes was the father of T.L., J.L., and J.L.J.R. After the mother of T.L., J.L., and J.L.J.R died in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2008, T.L., J.L., and J.L.J.R., began living with Loynes who moved to Atlanta with his girlfriend McGowan and McGowan's child D.A. At some point, McGowan gave birth to K.L. While living in Georgia, McGowan helped take care of T.L. J.L., J.L.J.R., K.L., and D.A. McGowan cooked, enrolled the children in school, transported them to school, and assumed a "kind of a parent-like role." Transcript Volume II at 108.

         [¶3] In 2011, Loynes, McGowan, and the children moved to Indiana and initially lived in the house of McGowan's sister in Indianapolis. McGowan continued to cook for the children and transport them to school. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Detective Christopher Lawrence testified that all of the children were under eighteen years old between 2011 to 2013. At this residence, J.L.J.R. observed marijuana in the house. J.L. observed marijuana and a white crystalline substance packaged in clear bags out in the open sometimes, T.L., J.L.J.R., K.L., and D.A. around cocaine, McGowan around the drugs, McGowan accept money for drugs, and the cooking or making of drugs in the kitchen when McGowan and the children were around. Before and after school, McGowan took the children to trap houses.[1] J.L. would sometimes go into the trap houses with other children and McGowan and observe drugs and money on tables, and McGowan would take money if Loynes was not present. J.L. observed McGowan exchange cocaine or pills for money while taking him to school or picking the children up from school.

         [¶4] McGowan, Loynes, and the children then stayed in hotels, and McGowan and Loynes would be gone from the hotel for "[s]ometime hours, sometime days, " and the children stayed at the hotel by themselves. Id. at 19. At that time, J.L., the oldest of the children, was thirteen years old. McGowan would say that she and Loynes were going to a trap house, which T.L. thought meant a drug house. T.L. saw guns on Loynes and sometimes under the "beds and stuff" where T.L. could access them.

         [¶5] McGowan, Loynes, and the children eventually moved to a house near 29th Street. T.L. observed marijuana and cocaine or crack in the house. She also observed Loynes making crack in the kitchen and placing the crack on a scale in the kitchen when the other children and McGowan were in the house. Family members and friends would visit and smoke marijuana. J.L.J.R. Observed "white stuff" in a Ziplock bag or pill bottle that Loynes sold. Id. at 75. McGowan was present when these exchanges occurred inside the house. J.L. observed marijuana, cocaine, and crack cocaine out in the open in the living room. J.L. also observed Loynes exchange drugs and McGowan accept money for drugs when the children were in the room or in an area where they could potentially see the exchanges occur. T.L. observed long guns and shotguns behind "stuff, like chairs or TVs or something, " while the children were present. Id. at 24. J.L.J.R. observed a revolver and a shotgun in the house. While they were residing in the house near 29th Street, J.L.J.R. found a shotgun under a chair, picked it up, pulled the trigger by accident, and shot it through the floor when McGowan and Loynes were not home. During this time, McGowan would also bring the children along while she was on her way to a trap house, enter the house or stop at the door of the house, and return to the car where the children were present.

         [¶6] At some point, they moved to a residence on King or Livingston. T.L. observed marijuana in the house, J.L.J.R. observed Loynes sell pills for money, and J.L. observed drug dealing when the children and McGowan were around. They then moved to a house on Temple where T.L. observed marijuana, cocaine or crack "laying around" and packaged in bags. Id. at 29. T.L. observed Loynes handle the crack or cocaine and sell drugs inside and outside of the house. Loynes or McGowan would allow the person purchasing drugs into the house. McGowan was present when the drug sales occurred, and the drug sales occurred "[a]ll the time." Id. at 31. Loynes was "the main person" selling the drugs, but "if he was like, 'Give this to them, ' then [McGowan] would." Id. at 32. McGowan would take money from the people buying drugs when Loynes was home and when he was gone. J.L. observed drug dealing at this house, and the children were exposed to this activity. He saw drugs in the living room on the television stand. J.L. also observed the making or cooking of crack cocaine, McGowan was "around to see this happen, " and the children were exposed to it as well. Id. at 126. J.L. would do the dishes and would have to clean some of the white residue off the dishes. At some point, McGowan and/or Loynes went through J.L.'s clothes in a closet looking for marijuana because they had stored it in his clothes for some reason.

         [¶7] While McGowan was present, Loynes told T.L. and J.L. to take money from certain individuals who had previously bought drugs, and T.L. or J.L. took money from people while living in the house on Temple when Loynes and McGowan were not present. While transporting T.L. to school in the morning with the other children in the vehicle, McGowan would stop at one of the trap houses and retrieve money from Loynes. During one occasion during this time, McGowan drove T.L. to a trap house and T.L. accompanied McGowan inside.

         [¶8] In March 2014, the State charged McGowan with ten counts of neglect of a dependent as class C felonies. In March 2017, the State filed a motion to file amended information asserting that Loynes's case was disposed and that his case would not be tried with McGowan's case and replacing the phrase "JAMES LOYNES and TANESHA MCGOWAN" from the last sentence in Counts 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9, with the phrase "JAMES LOYNES and/or TANESHA MCGOWAN." Appellant's Appendix Volume II at 119. The court granted the State's motion to amend the information.

         [¶9] In March and April 2017, the court held a bench trial. The State presented the testimony of T.L., who was seventeen years old at the time of trial, J.L.J.R., who was sixteen years old at the time of trial, and J.L., who was nineteen years old at the time of trial. During cross-examination, T.L. testified that McGowan never married Loynes, adopted her, or obtained any kind of legal custody over her. It found McGowan guilty of Counts 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9. The court ...

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