from the Madison Circuit Court Trial Court Cause No.
48C04-1601-F3-191 The Honorable David A. Happe, Judge
Attorney for Appellant Anthony C. Lawrence Anderson, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Katherine Cooper Deputy Attorney General
Steven Wade Childress appeals his conviction for level 3
felony armed robbery. He argues that the trial court clearly
erred in rejecting his claim, commonly known as a
Batson claim, that the prosecutor's peremptory
challenge to a potential juror was improperly based on the
juror's race. Finding no error, we affirm.
and Procedural History
In October 2015, Childress and Demerio Strong went to a party
at T.B.'s house. Childress and Strong discussed
committing a robbery. T.B. texted Darren Sloss that his
cousin was at her house and he should come over. Sloss drove
to T.B.'s and parked behind her house. When Sloss went in
the house, he did not see his cousin and decided to leave. He
exited the house and was attacked outside by Childress and
Strong. Strong held a gun to the back of his head and forced
him to the ground. Childress and Strong asked him for money.
While he was on the ground, Sloss saw Childress rummaging
around his car. Sloss was kicked, punched, and
pistol-whipped. Some of his clothing was ripped off. Several
women came outside, prompting Childress and Strong to run
away. Sloss walked to a hospital and reported the robbery.
Police found his clothes and wallet behind T.B.'s house,
but the money in his wallet, about $200, was gone.
In January 2016, the State charged Childress with level 3
felony armed robbery. In May 2017, a jury trial was held.
During voir dire, the prosecutor questioned the potential
jurors at length regarding their understanding of reasonable
doubt. When the venire was passed to defense counsel, he also
questioned the potential jurors about the burden of proof.
When defense counsel's questioning was finished, the
parties presented the trial court with their for cause and
peremptory challenges. The State sought to exercise one of
its peremptory challenges to strike Potential Juror 8.
Childress raised a Batson claim, noting that two
African-American jurors had been excused for cause by
agreement of the parties but Potential Juror 8 was the only
remaining African-American juror. Tr. Vol. 2 at 166. The
When defense was doing his questioning at the end
and he said what is your definition of reasonable doubt and
the first thing out of [Potential Juror
8's] mouth was no doubt. That in fact is
too high of a burden. When he was questioned by [the
prosecutor] on the different (indiscernible-paper rustling)
with the witness a lot of the things that were going back and
forth, but the main concern was when he said what is
reasonable doubt and his actual comment was a hundred
percent, no, a hundred percent. And his answer was no
doubt. It was that statement that we struck that was
Id. at 166-67 (emphases added). Defense counsel
countered, "I don't think a single answer should be
the basis for it. I think , (indiscernible-paper rustling)
factual situation in which we have primarily  black
individuals, witnesses,  the accused,  and for that
reason we think that [Potential Juror 8] who is
African-American should remain on the jury."
Id. at 167. The trial court noted that at the outset
Potential Juror 2 answered "a hundred percent."
Id. The prosecutor explained,
[Potential Juror 2] was a hundred percent, you're
correct; however, then that was the first answer when the
definition was given and then she came around and later said,
no, it doesn't have to be a hundred percent. She said I
understand after definitions had been given. That's when
[Potential Juror 8] said no doubt, and he never came
back from that. So, at this point (indiscernible-coughing).
Id. (emphasis added). Defense counsel stated that
Potential Juror 8 was not questioned about his answer any
further. Id. The trial court responded,
[I]t's different than a cause challenge. [There]
doesn't have to be an opportunity to rehabilitate or
respond to what they say. The question is is there an
independent (indiscernible-coughing) factor that would
support a good faith basis to exercise a peremptory. And here
 I think frankly it's a closer call than we usually see
on these challenges, but I think there is a distinction
to be drawn between the answer between Potential Juror 2 and
No. 8 and the timing. So, ...