from the Lake Superior Court The Honorable Salvador Vasquez,
Judge. Trial Court Cause No. 45G01-1609-MR-00004
Attorneys for Appellant Scott King Russell W. Brown, Jr.
Scott King Group Merrillville, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Justin F. Roebel Deputy Attorney General
In this interlocutory appeal, James Hill appeals the denial
of his motion to dismiss the charges against him. He argues
his due process rights were violated by the thirty-six year
delay in charging him with murder,  murder in perpetration of
robbery,  and Class A felony attempted
robbery. He contends his defense was prejudiced
because his alibi witnesses died in the intervening years. He
also claims the State was not justified in its delay.
While we agree the State's reason for delay was tenuous
at best, we conclude Hill has not demonstrated prejudice.
Thus, we affirm the trial court's denial of Hill's
motion to dismiss and remand.
and Procedural History
In the early morning of November 14, 1980, Hammond Police
Officer Larry Pucalik was murdered during an attempted
robbery at the Holiday Inn-Southeast located in Hammond,
Indiana. Later that day, Hammond Police Detective Robert
Seaman received an anonymous phone call from a person who
stated, "Pierre Catlett killed your cop." (App.
Vol. III at 146.)
On November 18, 1980, police arrested Hill on an unrelated
charge. When he was arrested, Hill "made the
spontaneous utterance 'I know you guys think I shot that
Hammond cop.'" (Id. at 149.) On March 9,
1981, Hill asked jail staff if he could speak with a
detective. According to the probable cause affidavit used in
Hill's 2016 indictment:
Hill confessed to detectives that he drove the vehicle used
in the attempted robbery and murder of Hammond Police Officer
Larry Pucalik. Hill recalled that [sic] Lee Mayes and Michael
as the subjects who went inside of the hotel. Detectives
showed Hill a spread of photographs. Hill picked out the
photograph of Larry Mayes, who [sic] Hill called Lee Mayes as
one of the persons who went inside of the Holiday
Inn-Southeast. Hill then picked out the photograph of Pierre
Catlett, who [sic] Hill called Michael LNU as the other
person who went inside of the Holiday Inn-Southeast.
(Id.) (footnote added).
On October 3, 1983, Hammond Police Detective Michael Solan,
Sr. spoke with Jimmy Dale Woods, who told Detective Solan:
[Mayes] came over to Jimmy Dale's house . . . and once
Mayes entered the house, he was walking back and forth really
nervous speaking out the window, so Jimmy asked him
what's wrong and he said the police are looking for me.
Something went wrong in Hammond. A security guard was shot
and eventually he asked for some money to get out of town
which [sic] his mother gave him $160, I believe, to Mayes to
get out of town and Mayes went to Indianapolis.
Tr. at 55.) When asked about the original investigation from
the 1980s, Detective Solan indicated:
We had substantial evidence, but we did not have enough
evidence -- we had substantial evidence, but my opinion, I
was the one that would decide if we were going to charge. We
had substantial evidence, but we weren't going to charge,
roll the dice because we had some problems with the
investigation at that time so we continued on.
(Id. at 56.) Detective Solan testified the
investigation into Officer Pucalik's murder stymied in
1992 or 1993, with no charges filed.
In 2009, Woods was being investigated for federal firearms
and drug trafficking crimes. Special Agent Jason Gore
submitted, as part of a probable cause affidavit, that Woods
told Special Agent Gore:
In 1980 [Woods] was living with his mother Betty Schular, now
deceased, in Gary, Indiana. Woods recalled that one evening
Larry Mayes came over to his house in a very excited manner.
Woods recalled that Mayes told Schuler "I think I did
something today, I think I killed somebody". [sic] Woods
stated that Mayes told him and Schuler that he was in trouble
and needed some money to get out of town.
Woods stated that Mayes went on to say that he, (Mayes),
James HILL and Mike LNU were driving around looking to rob
someone. Woods recalled that Mayes stated that they found a
Holiday Inn that only had one female desk clerk. Woods
remembered Mayes stating that they figured the desk clerk was
alone and would be an easy target. Woods explained that Mayes
told him that during the robbery, a security guard came out
from the backroom, and went for his gun. Woods stated that
Mayes told him he shot the security guard and fled the area
without getting any money from the clerk. Woods recalled that
Vincent Johnson was also at his house the night Mayes came
Woods stated that he and Schuler gave Mayes some drugs to
calm him down and some money to get out of town. Woods
believed that Mayes went to Indianapolis to hide out. Woods
recalled that the following Monday, Mayes returned back to
Gary, Indiana and came over to Schuler's house again.
Woods stated that Mayes told him that the guy he shot was an
ex-cop and a military hero.
(App. Vol. III at 149-50.) Based on Woods' statement,
Special Agent Gore also interviewed Vincent Johnson, who
corroborated portions of Woods' version of events.
Further, Special Agent Gore testified Woods gave him
additional information in 2009 "tying Mr. Hill and Mayes