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Prouse v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

June 26, 2018

Larry P. Prouse, III, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

          Appeal from the Vigo Superior Court The Honorable Michael J. Lewis, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 84D06-1608-MR-2268

          Attorney for Appellant Kay A. Beehler Terre Haute, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana James B. Martin Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          ALTICE, JUDGE.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] Larry P. Prouse, III, appeals his convictions for murder, Level 4 felony arson, Level 6 felony abuse of a corpse, and Level 6 felony altering the scene of a death. On appeal, Prouse contends that his dual convictions for arson and altering the scene of death constitute double jeopardy in violation of Article 1, Section 14 of the Indiana Constitution. He also asserts fundamental error with respect to certain testimony of a deputy fire marshal.

         [¶2] We affirm.

         Facts & Procedural History

         [¶3] Late in the evening of August 20, 2016, Prouse picked up Ashley McMickle from her friend Shawn Roberts's house and drove her to McDonald's. They returned about thirty minutes later and hung out with Roberts for a bit. Prouse and McMickle then left in Prouse's truck.

         [¶4] Prouse and McMickle turned up at Leona and James Crowley's home sometime after midnight, purportedly with a man known only as Opie. Leona is Prouse's mother and James is his step-father. They did not know McMickle or Opie but allowed them into the home. Over the next several hours, everyone except Leona - who was painting signs in another room - hung out in the living room of the small home and used methamphetamine together. At Prouse's request, Leona provided him with a knife from her tool box that he used to fashion a meth pipe out of a lightbulb. McMickle eventually fell asleep on one end of the sectional couch where they were sitting.

         [¶5] Sometime after 5:00 a.m., Prouse stabbed McMickle in the neck as she slept. She woke and attempted to fight off Prouse, but he overpowered her and continued stabbing her. James watched Prouse stab McMickle multiple times and then hit her with a baseball bat. Leona saw him stab McMickle in the shoulder, and unsuccessfully pleaded with Prouse to stop.

         [¶6] Opie ran out the front door during the attack, followed by the Crowleys' dog and then Leona. James went out the back door and started yelling for the dog. Leona and the dog eventually returned to the fenced-in backyard. In the meantime, Prouse dragged McMickle's dead body out of the house and onto the back patio. Prouse then threatened James and told him to leave with Leona. The Crowleys walked to Leona's mother's house, arriving around 6:30 a.m. James took a shower and then stepped out on the porch, when a man drove up and told James that his house was on fire. The man drove James and Leona to the scene.

         [¶7] The fire had been called in at 7:09 a.m. by an off-duty firefighter, who observed the back of the home engulfed in flames. Responding firefighters found two separate fires on the property - a large burn pile in the backyard and the residence fire. After fighting the fires, responders turned their attention to the burn pile where they then found McMickle's charred remains under boards. Her left arm was relatively unaffected by the fire due to its positioning and a tarp wrapped around it. She was identified the next day by her fingerprint.

         [¶8] Fire investigators determined that the fires were intentionally and separately set. Additionally, Terre Haute Fire Chief Norm Loudermilk opined that the fire on the burn pile was set first and likely started sometime between 6:30 a.m. and 6:50 a.m., while the house began burning around 6:50 a.m. The house fire was ...


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