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Edmonds v. State

Supreme Court of Indiana

June 29, 2018

Matthew Edmonds Appellant (Defendant below),
v.
State of Indiana Appellee (Plaintiff below).

          Appeal from the Marion Superior Court, No. 49G05-1506-F3-20232 The Honorable Grant W. Hawkins, Judge

         On Petition from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 49A05-1703-CR-400

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Victoria L. Bailey Marion County Public Defender Indianapolis, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Angela N. Sanchez Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          OPINION

          David, Justice.

         In Paquette v. State, a decision handed down today, we found that only one Level 3 felony conviction is authorized under Indiana Code section 35-44.1-3-1 when a defendant engages in a single act of resisting law enforcement while operating a vehicle that causes multiple deaths. Here, we decide a similar question: whether multiple felony convictions are authorized by Indiana Code section 35-44.1-3-1 where a single act of resisting law enforcement while operating a vehicle causes the death of one person and serious bodily injuries to two other people. We reach the same conclusion as we did in Paquette. As written, the statute permits only one conviction-in this case, the highest chargeable offense-for each instance of resisting law enforcement, regardless of how many people are harmed.

         Facts and Procedural History

         On the morning of June 8, 2015, Matthew Edmonds entered a Walmart in Beech Grove, Indiana. Edmonds was observed stuffing a variety of food and clothing items into old plastic bags. He then walked past the point of sale without paying for those items. The store's asset protection manager, Timothy Dunlop, called 911 and told dispatchers about the theft. He also informed them that Edmonds had gotten into a tan Chevy Tahoe after leaving the store. Dunlop shared the vehicle's license plate number with dispatchers.

         Beech Grove Police Officer Josh Hartman was the first to arrive on the scene. Officer Darrin McGuire also responded, but he waited outside the parking lot. When Officer Hartman entered the lot, he spotted a vehicle matching the description and pulled up behind it. Edmonds quickly sped off and exited the parking lot.

         Officers Hartman and McGuire immediately gave chase with their lights and sirens activated. They followed Edmonds as he traveled northbound on a southbound lane of Emerson Avenue. Edmonds' vehicle reached speeds upwards of 80 miles per hour on a 40-mile-per-hour road. When Edmonds entered the intersection of Emerson Avenue and Raymond Street, he drove through a gas station, jumped a median, and continued driving westbound on an eastbound lane of Raymond Street. Law enforcement, including Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department ("IMPD") officers who later joined the chase, decided that it was too dangerous to keep pursuing Edmonds at such high speeds. They called off the chase, but stayed on the lookout for Edmonds.

         Not long afterward, Edmonds re-emerged on State Street, near the Minnesota Street intersection. Edmonds was seen by IMPD officers traveling north on State Street's southbound lanes. Officers followed cautiously and Edmonds continued north, until he drove past a red light at the intersection of State Street and Prospect Avenue. At the same time, Donna Niblock was crossing that intersection in her Ford pickup truck, traveling west on Prospect Street. Her daughter, Ladonna Rogers was in the front passenger seat and her grandson, Johnathan Rogers, was in the back. All three had their seatbelts fastened.

         As Edmonds ran the red light, his vehicle collided with the driver's side of Niblock's truck. The impact flipped Niblock's truck in the air. Niblock died as a result of her injuries. Ladonna and Johnathan Rogers survived the crash, but they each suffered serious bodily injuries.

         The State charged Edmonds with a total of twelve counts. Among those were one count for resisting law enforcement by fleeing in a vehicle causing death, a Level 3 felony; and two counts for resisting law enforcement by fleeing in a vehicle causing serious bodily injury, Level 5 felonies. Edmonds was also charged with four counts related to leaving the scene of an accident-one for failure to remain at the scene of an accident with death, a Level 5 felony; two for failure to remain at the scene of an accident with injury, Level 6 felonies; and one for failure to remain at the scene of an accident, Class B misdemeanors. Edmonds was found guilty as charged on all twelve counts.

         Edmonds successfully motioned to receive a judgment on the evidence on three charges related to driving with a suspended license. The trial court dismissed those charges, finding that the State failed to present sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict. The trial court also merged the Level 3 felony resisting law enforcement causing the death of another person charge with the Level 5 felony ...


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