from the Vanderburgh Superior Court, The Honorable Robert J.
Pigman, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 82D03-1703-F2-1230
AttorneyS for Appellant Scott L. Barnhart Brooke Smith Keffer
Barnhart LLP Indianapolis, Indiana.
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana James B. Martin Deputy Attorney General
March of 2017, Ronnie Ricketts, Jr., located his domestic
partner Sarah Metcalf eating dinner with two men at an
Evansville mission, one of whom Ricketts had told Metcalf not
to see anymore. Ricketts told the two men that they were
dead, retrieved two handguns from his vehicle parked outside,
and shot out a window of the mission when he found the door
barred. The State charged Ricketts with Level 2 felony
burglary. In late November and early December of 2017,
Ricketts requested that he be allowed to dismiss his public
defender and continue pro se. After Ricketts
explained to the trial court that he had been diagnosed with
several mental illnesses and that his medications were no
longer effective, the trial court denied Ricketts's
request to proceed pro se. A jury convicted Ricketts
as charged, and the trial court sentenced him to seventeen
and one-half years of incarceration. Ricketts contends that
the trial court erred in denying his request to represent
himself and that his sentence is inappropriately harsh.
Because we disagree with both contentions, we affirm.
and Procedural History
On March 2, 2017, Maurice Huffman, Huffman's mother,
James Smith, and Metcalf were eating dinner together in the
dining hall at the Evansville Rescue Mission. There were
"a lot" of children volunteering in the Rescue
Mission that day. Tr. Vol. II p. 235. Metcalf had had sexual
intercourse with Smith on a single occasion, and Ricketts,
the father of Metcalf's infant daughter and with whom she
had been romantically involved for approximately four years,
had previously told Metcalf not to associate with Smith
anymore. As the quartet was eating, Ricketts came into the
hall, called Metcalf a "lying whore[, ]" and told
Huffman and Smith that if they did not leave her alone
"[they] would be dead." Tr. Vol. II pp. 57, 176.
According to Smith, Ricketts entered the hall; said
"this is how it's f-ing going to be" to
Metcalf; and told Smith and Huffman, "you are both going
to die now[.]" Tr. Vol. II p. 67.
Metcalf followed Ricketts outside as he retrieved two
handguns from his vehicle. Despite Metcalf begging him to
stop, Ricketts tried to reenter the Rescue Mission, and, when
he discovered that he could not reenter through the door,
shot out a window and stepped through. Smith ran to the
kitchen and Hoffman ran out the back door and hid behind a
dumpster. Ricketts searched for Smith and Hoffman without
success, returned to his vehicle, and drove off. After a
vehicular pursuit, police apprehended Ricketts in front of
Ricketts told police after his arrest that he and Metcalf had
been together for four years and that he had gone to the
mission to see if she was lying to him. Ricketts told an
[t]he first time when I went in, and I seen her with 'em,
and I got pissed. I went back out to the truck got [the
handguns]. They shut me out with the door-the wooden doors,
so I shot the window out. I didn't shoot at nobody. I
didn't hurt nobody. I shot the window out. Kick-pushed it
through, and went through it and went after 'em.
State's Ex. 40. The interviewing detective asked Ricketts
if he told both Smith and Huffman that he was going to kill
them, to which Ricketts responded, "You're damn
right I did." State's Ex. 40. When the detective
asked, "if you would have found them would you have shot
them?", Ricketts replied, "Oh, yeah." The
detective then asked or stated, "You-you wanted to kill
them[, ]" to which Ricketts replied, "Yeah."
State's Ex. 40. On March 6, 2017, the State charged
Ricketts with Level 2 felony burglary.
At a hearing on November 28, 2017, Ricketts told the trial
court that he wished to proceed pro se because trial
counsel had agreed to delays in the case and had been
unsuccessful in having his bail reduced. The trial court
denied Ricketts's request to proceed pro se. At
a hearing on December 4, 2017, Ricketts again indicated that
he wanted to proceed pro se. Ricketts's trial
counsel indicated that Ricketts wanted to be added to the
trial court's calendar because he wanted "to make a
record that he wishes to proceed pro-se[, ]" the hearing
the previous week had been before a substitute judge, and
"there's a stronger record that needs to be
laid." Tr. Vol. II p. 22. The following exchange
THE COURT: Okay you do not want [trial counsel] to represent
[Ricketts]: No, sir.
THE COURT: Okay do you want to tell me why?
[Ricketts]: Not really a reason. [J]ust that she hasn't
been doing nothing. I've been in here for nine months.
I've had [a] heart attack, and my health issues are
pretty bad, and my other stuff's going on and-
THE COURT: Okay.
[Ricketts]: I don't think she's been doing what she
should do to try and get me out.
THE COURT: Well it's not up to her whether you get out.
That's up to the court. Uh, have you ever represented
[Ricketts]: No, sir. This is the first time I've ever
been in jail.
THE COURT: Okay. Well the-do you have any familiarity with
the rules of evidence or the trial procedures, court