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Eisert v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

May 25, 2018

James R. Eisert, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

          Appeal from the Ripley Circuit Court The Honorable Ryan King, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 69C01-1603-F5-11

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE Alan D. Wilson Kokomo, Indiana

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Leanna Weissmann Lawrenceburg, Indiana ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Tyler G. Banks Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indian

          May, Judge.

         [¶1] James R. Eisert appeals his six-year sentence for Level 5 felony stalking[1] and Class A misdemeanor invasion of privacy.[2] He argues that sentence is inappropriate in light of his character and offenses. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] Eisert was married to G.E., and together they had two children, L.E. and M.E. By December 2015, Eisert and G.E. were estranged, L.E. was at college, and M.E. lived with G.E. On December 26, 2015, Eisert battered G.E. and M.E., and he threatened to hurt G.E. and to kill G.E., M.E., and L.E. Eisert was arrested, and the State charged him with multiple counts of battery on December 30, 2015. The trial court released Eisert on bond pending trial and ordered him to have no-contact with his ex-wife or children, but on January 1, 2016, Eisert was arrested for violating that no contact order. The court once again released Eisert from custody and entered another no contact order as to G.E. and M.E.

         [¶3] Following the violence in December 2015, G.E. consulted with workers at a domestic violence shelter to develop a safety plan for herself and her children. G.E. changed the locks on all the doors to her home and added two additional locks to each door. She installed security cameras that recorded what was happening at her house's back door and basement door. She and M.E. changed their routines to ensure their arrival and exit at work and school, respectively, were monitored by others.

         [¶4] On February 5, 2016, after 10:30 p.m., Eisert climbed onto the roof of G.E.'s house, entered the attic through a window, and then used razor blades to cut his way through the dry wall between the attic and the living space. G.E. was home alone, and when she heard someone trying to break into the house, she called M.E. and then called 911. G.E. was on the line with the 911 operator when she saw Eisert emerge. G.E. screamed repeatedly and told the operator she was running outside her house, but then the phone went dead. G.E. tried to run out the front door, but Eisert grabbed her by the hair, pulled her to the garage, and tried to force her into a car. Eisert told G.E. that they needed to "go talk to Jesus, " (Tr. Vol. II at 36), which G.E. believed was a threat to kill her, and she was "scared to death." (Id.) Before Eisert could get G.E. into a car, M.E. returned home. Eisert fled the house and hid near the woods until police used heat sensors to locate him. G.E. was so terrified that she needed medical attention at the scene.

         [¶5] On February 9, 2016, under Case Number 69C01-1603-F5-11, the State charged Eisert with Level 5 felony stalking, Level 6 felony residential entry, [3] and Class A misdemeanor invasion of privacy. In May 2017, Eisert and the State entered an agreement whereby Eisert would plead guilty to stalking and invasion of privacy, while the State would dismiss the residential-entry charge.[4] The trial court accepted Eisert's plea.

         [¶6] The trial court held a sentencing hearing at which the State and Eisert presented evidence. The court then entered a very detailed sentencing order to explain its sentencing:

         The Aggravating Factors are as follows:

1) The trauma suffered by the victim was significant and continues to impact her, as well as continues to impact her children. First, immediately after the crime the victim suffered an anxiety related episode that resulted in law enforcement calling an ambulance - she broke-down because only moments before she believed that she was going to be killed by her estranged husband. Second, Kim Bowman, Safe Passage Director of Shelter, testified that the safety plan implemented to protect the victim was the most extensive Safe Passage has ever implemented: the victim had a security system installed (which is why the Defendant accessed the home through the attic), the locks on the marital home were changed, guns were removed, and the son they share was escorted to and from the school house doors. Bowman stated that the Lethality Assessment indicated that the victim and her family were in danger. Third, during the sentencing hearing, the fear the victim had, and continues to have, is readily apparent due to her demeanor of fear. Fourth, the statements of the children concerning the events herein show that they too fear the Defendant. The significant impact on the victim and her children is a substantial aggravating factor.
2) The nature and circumstances of the crime are particularly egregious. The events of February 5, 2016, are substantially aggravating: Defendant broke into the victim's attic by prying open a window, then cut a hole in the drywall between the attic and the residential portion of the home using a razor blade to gain access to the living quarters, attempted to pull the victim into a car while telling her they were going to go "talk to Jesus, " and when law enforcement responded to the home Defendant fled and hid until he was discovered via the use of thermal imaging. ...

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