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Barcroft v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 19, 2017

Lori Barcroft, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Marion Superior Court, The Honorable Lisa F. Borges, Judge, Trial Court Cause No. 49G04-1205-MR-33537

          Attorney for Appellant Valerie K. Boots Marion County Public Defender Agency Indianapolis, Indiana.

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Larry D. Allen Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

          NAJAM, JUDGE.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] Lori Barcroft appeals her convictions, following a bench trial, for murder and a sentencing enhancement for the unlawful use of a firearm in the commission of an offense. Barcroft raises one issue on appeal, namely, whether the trial court erred when it rejected her insanity defense and found her guilty but mentally ill.

         [¶2] We reverse and remand with instructions.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] In 2007, Jordan Ashbury, one of Barcroft's adult sons, became concerned about Barcroft's deteriorating mental state, which he believed was caused because she was "demonically possessed." Add. at 5. According to Ashbury, Barcroft had begun to see messages on the refrigerator and she had become obsessed with the colors of cars. Ashbury asked Pastor Jaman Iseminger, the pastor at the church Barcroft and Ashbury attended, to help Barcroft. Pastor Iseminger told Ashbury that Barcroft needed to be prayed over and also hospitalized. After the ensuing death of her father, Barcroft deteriorated further, and Ashbury attempted to hospitalize her, but she refused. At the time, Barcroft lived with Ashbury and his wife, Tamia. However, on the advice of Pastor Iseminger, Ashbury told Barcroft that she could no longer live with them, as Tamia was fearful for her life. Barcroft then moved in with her mother.

         [¶4] On the morning of May 19, 2012, Pastor Iseminger arrived at the church at approximately 6:45 a.m. in order to open the church kitchen for Jeff Harris, who was preparing to lead a workshop. Harris was in the kitchen when he noticed Barcroft walking around the outside of the church. Barcroft wore a black hooded sweatshirt with its hood up and dark jeans, and she carried a backpack. Harris went outside and saw Barcroft standing in an exterior stairwell that led to the church's basement, where Pastor Iseminger's office was located, and looking in through a basement window. Harris asked Barcroft if he could help her, and Barcroft asked if Pastor Iseminger was there.

         [¶5] Harris entered the church and went down the interior stairs to the basement, where he found Pastor Iseminger in his office. Harris told Pastor Iseminger that a woman was there to see him. Although Harris was not aware of it, Barcroft had entered the church behind him and was waiting near the top of the interior stairs. Pastor Iseminger followed Harris back up the stairs, and after Harris passed Barcroft, Barcroft shot at Pastor Iseminger. Barcroft turned, pointed the gun at Harris, and said "go, go." Tr. Vol. II at 119. Harris ran outside and called 9-1-1. As he ran, he heard two more gunshots. Harris then saw Barcroft leave the church and walk or jog along the building, cross the street, and go between two houses. Pastor Iseminger came up the exterior stairs, yelled for help, and collapsed on the ground. Lisa Walden, an attendee of the workshop, had been asleep in her car in the church parking lot when she heard the gunshots. Walden saw Pastor Iseminger fall to the ground, and she saw a woman dressed in all black walk away quickly. Walden rushed to help Pastor Iseminger while Harris talked to the 9-1-1 operator.

         [¶6] Officers from the Southport and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Departments, along with paramedics, responded to the 9-1-1 call. After they obtained a description of Barcroft and learned the direction of her flight, Officers John Czankusch and Daniel Ryan used a police dog to search for her. The dog alerted to an area about a block from the church that was overgrown with vegetation. Barcroft was hidden under a blanket of vegetation in such a manner that the officers could only see some red fabric from her clothing or backpack. Officer Czankusch later testified that Barcroft was so well-hidden that the officers probably would not have found her without the police dog or unless they had actually stepped on her. Officer Ryan ordered Barcroft twice to come out. Barcroft did not respond to the first command. When he made the second command, Officer Ryan told Barcroft that he would shoot her if she did not come out or if she did not show her hands. Barcroft then crawled out from under the vegetation and Officer Czankusch placed Barcroft in handcuffs. Officer Ryan asked Barcroft if she had a gun, and Barcroft said she did and informed him that the gun was in her jacket pocket. At the time of her arrest, Officer Ryan described Barcroft's demeanor as "very quiet and calm" and cooperative. Id. at 65. Detective Michael Mitchell arrived at the scene, and Barcroft volunteered to him, "I'm the one you're looking for." Id. at 142. Detective Mitchell also described her demeanor at the scene as calm. Officers soon learned that Pastor Iseminger had been pronounced dead at the hospital from a gunshot wound to his chest.

         [¶7] Officers took Barcroft into custody and placed her in an interview room. Detective Mitchell entered the room, told Barcroft to have a seat, and informed her that he was conducting an investigation. Detective Mitchell read Barcroft her Miranda rights. Detective Mitchell did not ask any questions, but Barcroft gave a lengthy narrative in which she admitted that she had shot Pastor Iseminger.

         [¶8] During her statement to Detective Mitchell, Barcroft disclosed a complex and extensive system of beliefs and delusions that experts later diagnosed as schizophrenia, paranoid type, or delusional disorder, persecutory type. According to her statement to Detective Mitchell, the delusions began around 1999 or 2000, when Barcroft took in a pregnant woman from Colombia. When the woman's baby was one year old, Barcroft traveled to Colombia for the baby's baptism, where she met the baby's father, whom she said was named Rafael Medina. She often called him "R" or "Rafa." Add. at 7. Barcroft believed that this man controlled most of the world's cocaine and was the wealthiest man in the world. Barcroft said that in 2007, R asked her to marry him, which made her a "Class KK, uh, 9-9-5-5-7-7" in the Colombian mafia and also pitted Barcroft against his enemies, which included the family of Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush. Id. According to Barcroft, the Bush family was allied with the Mexican mafia and was involved in cocaine and human trafficking. Barcroft thought the Bush family had asked Osama Bin Laden to commit the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and had tried to kill President Barack H. Obama in order for Jeb Bush to take over the White House. Barcroft stated she had twice intervened to save President Obama's life. Barcroft also said that R had a network of spy satellites and that they were being watched at that moment. Barcroft further stated that President George W. Bush and Ambassador William Brownfield were "slaughtering the handicapped in Columbia. They handicapped the babies[, ] and they human traffic." Id. at 8. They also put Barcroft up for an "electronic auction." Id.

         [¶9] Pastor Iseminger was an integral part of Barcroft's delusional scheme in that she thought he was controlled by the Bush family and the Mexican mafia. In particular, in her statement to Detective Mitchell Barcroft stated that Pastor Iseminger was responsible for the death of her father in 2010. Although her father's official cause of death was congestive heart failure, Barcroft claimed to have received a message that Pastor Iseminger had caused her father to be smothered to death. Barcroft also believed that Jeb Bush had killed her grandmother and that the Bush family and Pastor Iseminger had caused her grandson to be infected with Kawasaki disease. Barcroft further said that Pastor Iseminger had been lying about her to make people hate her and have her appear to be of a lower class than she was to get her killed.

         [¶10] During her statement to Detective Mitchell, Barcroft further stated:

Ah, uh, what happened is, uh, Jaman, who I shot, he, um, basically is the cause of all of this. And he's 4. Nobody else can do this but me. I'm 5. And what he's been doing is uh . . . I'm not a killer, by the way, but I'm the only one (chuckling) that can do it.

Id. at 8 (ellipses in original). She went on to state that

I'm the only one that could take care of Jaman. That's the reason why I did it. It wasn't even vengeance for . . . I mean, he was gonna try to pick off my family one by one. Not himself, the people that, that act for him. And I was basically told that, uh, since he's 4A . . . Bush family is 4A . . . [.] And he's not Mafia O, by the way. He's Z. Uh, and I'm Mafia O. I'm the only one, uh, I'm top "O" Queen.
They want me dead. So they lie, lie, lie, and lie. Jaman's a ...

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