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Laughlin v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

April 26, 2018

Keith A. Laughlin, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

          Appeal from the Johnson Superior Court The Honorable Cynthia Emkes, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 41D02-1501-F6-41

          Attorney for Appellant Michael J. Kyle Baldwin Kyle & Kamish, P.C. Franklin

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Lee M. Stoy, Jr. Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis.

          May, Judge.

         [¶1] Keith A. Laughlin appeals his conviction of Level 6 felony intimidation where the threat is to commit a forcible felony.[1] He argues the State did not present sufficient evidence: (1) he intended to cause the Johnson County Courthouse to be evacuated, and (2) he threatened to commit a forcible felony. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History[2]

         [¶2] At approximately 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 17, 2015, Laughlin called in a "bomb threat at the Johnson County Courthouse." (Tr. Vol. II at 6.) Laughlin called again later and asked, "Did you find the bomb? . . . You have ten minutes to respond." (State's Ex. 2 at 00:00:27 - 00:00:46.) Laughlin called a total of six times; some of the calls were hang up calls and in some calls Laughlin's speech was unintelligible. The 911 dispatcher was able to determine via Caller ID that the calls came from a telephone number owned by Laughlin.

         [¶3] Detective James Bryant went to the Johnson County Courthouse and, along with four or five other officers, inspected the premises to make sure there was not a bomb. Police were able to locate the geographical source of Laughlin's calls using a two-phase system that pinpoints, first, the location of the cell tower accessed and, second, the more precise address from which the calls were made.

          Once the Courthouse was clear, Detective Bryant went to the address identified by the two-phase system, and Angela Bryant[3] answered the door. Detective Bryant inquired about Laughlin, Angela indicated Laughlin was in the back room of the house, and officers found him there. Detective Bryant interviewed Laughlin and Angela. Detective Bryant then reviewed the 911 tapes and arrested Laughlin based on Detective Bryant's belief Laughlin made the calls because Laughlin has a "unique voice." (Tr. Vol. II at 22.)

         [¶4] On January 21, 2015, the State charged Laughlin with Level 6 felony intimidation where the threat is to commit a forcible felony. After a bench trial on May 24, 2017, the trial court entered a conviction as charged. On July 12, 2017, the trial court sentenced Laughlin to two years, which the court suspended.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶5] When reviewing sufficiency of the evidence in support of a conviction, we will consider only probative evidence in the light most favorable to the trial court's judgment. Binkley v. State, 654 N.E.2d 736, 737 (Ind. 1995), reh'g denied. The decision comes before us with a presumption of legitimacy, and we will not substitute our judgment for that of the fact-finder. Id.

         [¶6] We do not assess the credibility of the witnesses or reweigh the evidence in determining whether the evidence is sufficient. Drane v. State, 867 N.E.2d 144, 146 (Ind. 2007). Reversal is appropriate only when no reasonable fact-finder could find the elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. Thus, the evidence is not required to overcome every reasonable hypothesis of innocence and is sufficient if an inference may reasonably be drawn from it to support the verdict. Id. at 147.

         [¶7] To prove Laughlin committed Level 6 felony intimidation where the threat is to commit a forcible felony, the State had to provide evidence that Laughlin: (1) communicated a threat; (2) to another person; (3) with the intent of causing the evacuation of a dwelling, building, or other structure; (4) and the threat was to commit a forcible felony. Ind. Code ยง 35-45-2-1(b)(1)(A) (2014). Laughlin argues the State did not present evidence he intended the Johnson County Courthouse to be evacuated because he called in a bomb threat ...


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