Brian L. Paquette, Appellant (Defendant below),
State of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff below).
Argued: October 12, 2017
from the Pike Circuit Court, No. 63C01-1602-F3-73 The
Honorable Jeffrey L. Biesterveld, Judge
Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Mark A. Bates Schererville, Indiana
Thomas W.Vanes Merrillville, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Andrew J. Kobe Tyler G. Banks Deputy Attorneys
General Indianapolis, Indiana
asked to resolve whether a defendant can be convicted of
multiple felony resisting law enforcement charges when those
charges stem from a single incident of resisting. For reasons
discussed herein, we find that Indiana Code section
35-44.1-3-1 authorizes only one conviction for felony
resisting law enforcement where the defendant engages in a
single act of resisting while operating a vehicle that causes
multiple deaths. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court and
remand for revised sentencing.
and Procedural History
evening of February 2, 2016, Indiana Police State Trooper
James Manning ("Trooper Manning") was parked on the
northbound shoulder of I-69, near Petersburg, Indiana. A
motorist pulled over and informed Trooper Manning that he
observed a blue Chevy Tahoe driving northbound on the
southbound lanes of the interstate. Trooper Manning activated
his patrol vehicle's emergency signals-the lights and
siren- and gave chase, driving northbound on I-69. Shortly
thereafter, he spotted a blue SUV driving on the wrong side
of the road. Officers later learned that Brian L. Paquette
was driving that vehicle.
Trooper Manning approached the blue SUV, he aimed his
spotlight at the fleeing vehicle. Trooper Manning then pulled
into the median, and Paquette seemed to slow down. Instead of
coming to a full stop, however, Paquette made a U-turn onto
the northbound lane and continued driving on the wrong side
of the road, this time heading south. Trooper Manning
immediately veered onto the southbound road and followed
Paquette, once again shining his spotlight at the blue SUV.
same time, several passenger vehicles traveled north on the
northbound road. Among those was a vehicle occupied by Jason
and Samantha Lowe, who were returning to their home in
Fishers, Indiana after visiting Samantha's mother at an
Evansville hospital. Also traveling northbound on I-69 were
Stephanie Molinet and Autumn Kapperman, who were riding in a
Ford Focus to pick up Kapperman's sister and her
newly-born niece from Riley Hospital. Kapperman was expecting
a child of her own at the time of the incident.
Manning followed in pursuit and Paquette continued
southbound, driving between two northbound lanes. Within two
miles of making the U-turn, Paquette's SUV collided
head-on with Molinet's Ford Focus, striking the passenger
side where Kapperman was seated. Molinet, Kapperman, and
Kapperman's unborn child died as a result of the crash.
The impact of the collision caused Paquette's Chevy Tahoe
to flip over and land on the driver's side of the
Lowe's vehicle, instantly killing Jason Lowe.
survived the crash. While officers waited for firefighters to
extract Paquette from his vehicle, Paquette told an officer
that, at the time of the crash, he believed he was being
chased by farmers through a field. He also believed he was
carrying a female passenger, but officers found no evidence
of another passenger at the crash site.
State charged Paquette with a total of eleven offenses. Among
those were three counts for each of the following: resisting
law enforcement by fleeing in a vehicle causing death, a
Level 3 felony; operating a vehicle with methamphetamine in
his blood causing death, a Level 4 felony; and reckless
homicide, a Level 5 felony. Each duplicative count related to
one of the three deceased victims. Paquette was also charged
with operating a vehicle with methamphetamine in his body
causing serious bodily injury to Samantha Lowe, a Level 6
felony; and possession of methamphetamine, a Level 6 felony.
agreed to plead guilty to all charges, but reserved the right
to ask the court to enter only one conviction and sentence
for the felony resisting law enforcement charge. Paquette
argued that he engaged in only one act of resisting, thus
conviction on all three resisting law enforcement felony
charges-one for each deceased victim-violated a state and
federal prohibition on double-jeopardy. On that issue, the
trial court ruled against Paquette, finding that conviction
and sentence on all three counts of resisting law enforcement
was not barred by double-jeopardy protections.
trial court then entered convictions on all three Level 3
felony counts of resisting law enforcement and on the charge
of operating a vehicle with methamphetamine in his blood
causing serious bodily injury. The court merged the remaining
counts into the four aforementioned counts. For each of the
three felony resisting law enforcement convictions, the trial
court imposed 16-year sentences to be served consecutively.
For the operating while intoxicated conviction, Paquette
received a 2.5-year sentence to be served consecutively with
the resisting sentences. In total, Paquette was to serve
fifty-and-a-half years executed.
appealed, making a statutory argument instead of a
constitutional one. He argued that, as written, Indiana's
resisting law enforcement statute authorizes only one
conviction for each act of resisting and that the trial
court, therefore, erred when it entered three convictions and
sentences against him. Relying on its own precedent in
Armstead v. State, 549 N.E.2d 400 (Ind.Ct.App.
1990), the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for revised
sentencing. It held that the legislature intended only one
conviction for each act of resisting, and since Paquette had
only engaged in one act of resisting ...