Argued: January 11, 2018
from the Jackson Superior Court The Honorable Bruce A.
MacTavish, Judge No. 36D02-1601-JD-3 On
Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals No.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT R. Patrick Magrath Alcorn Sage
Schwartz & Magrath, LLP Madison, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
Katherine Cooper Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis,
several months B.T.E., a juvenile, plotted to shoot up and
blow up his high school, and he targeted two of his
classmates to die. B.T.E. took several steps to implement his
plot. The trial court adjudicated B.T.E. a juvenile
delinquent on two counts, one of which is relevant here:
attempted aggravated battery, a level 3 felony if committed
by an adult.
consider whether, under Indiana's criminal-attempt
statute, B.T.E. took the required "substantial
step" toward committing aggravated battery-or whether
his actions were "mere preparation". After
considering several factors, we hold there was sufficient
evidence of the "substantial step" element and
affirm the trial court's judgment.
and Procedural History
B.T.E., was a sophomore at Seymour High School during the
2015-16 school year. During the fall semester, he began
plotting an attack at his school in the spring semester of
his senior year. He targeted two of his classmates: G.M., the
object of B.T.E.'s unrequited affection; and J.R., a
rival suitor. B.T.E. chose April 20, 2018, as the date of his
planned attack- the anniversary of the 1999 massacre at
Columbine High School in Colorado, a shooting spree during
which 13 people were murdered, many more were injured, and
the two student gunmen committed suicide.
January 2016, a school resource officer at Seymour High
School learned that B.T.E. had liked a Facebook page called
"Columbine High School Massacre". The officer
reported this information to the Seymour Police Department,
which began its own investigation. During an interview,
police told B.T.E. of the allegations against him, and he
became visibly upset and teary-eyed. B.T.E. admitted talking
to other students about possibly "shooting up the
school". And he admitted having a crush on G.M. and a
strong animus toward J.R., whom he thought G.M. preferred.
Although B.T.E. acknowledged plotting with his friend and
classmate, M.V., he claimed their scheme was just a
was arrested shortly afterward. The State charged B.T.E. with
juvenile offenses that would be crimes if an adult committed
them: attempted murder, attempted aggravated battery,
conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to commit
juvenile-delinquency proceeding, the trial court admitted
into evidence statements B.T.E. made to M.V. and other
juveniles via Facebook chat. B.T.E. repeatedly expressed his
wish to torture or kill J.R. and occasionally mentioned
killing G.M., too. In exchanges with his friend and
co-conspirator M.V., B.T.E. claimed he had "figured out
how to make pipe bombs" and described the weapons he
might use against J.R.
B.T.E.: I could steal a knife ... and kill
[J.R.] with it and then take out as many people as possible.
M.V.: Or you could buy a gun.
. . . .
B.T.E.: Or I could attempt to break into my dads [sic] gun
safe so I wouldn't have to buy a weapon.
Facebook chat logs also show B.T.E. solicited M.V. and a
student from a different school, D.H., to assist with violent
disclosed the date of his planned attack when he said in a
Facebook chat, "four twenty eighteen (4/20/18). Some
people will find out what the state of nothingness is
like." B.T.E. told police he chose that particular date
because it was the anniversary of the Columbine school
massacre. When police asked B.T.E. about the significance of
2018, he responded that was his senior year and he had done a
large amount of research on school massacres including the
Columbine shooting and its perpetrators. The two Columbine
student-gunmen were high-school seniors when they carried out
their deadly attack.
court also admitted into evidence a diagram B.T.E. made of
one of the classrooms depicting the seating arrangement,
marking the exits, and indicating an "x" where one
of his intended victims sat. And the trial court admitted
B.T.E's "death note", which was to be read
after B.T.E. died carrying out his plan. The trial court
adjudicated B.T.E. a delinquent for attempted aggravated
battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery but not
for the other charges. The court sentenced B.T.E. to
probation until his eighteenth birthday with a suspended
commitment to the Indiana Department of Correction.
divided Court of Appeals reversed the attempt finding but
affirmed the conspiracy finding. B.T.E. v. State, 82
N.E.3d 267 (Ind.Ct.App. 2017). On the attempt issue, the
majority held that "the State did not present evidence
that B.T.E. completed a substantial step toward the
commission of the crime of aggravated battery",
id. at 279, because "the conduct . . . did not
go beyond mere preparation and was not strongly corroborative
of his stated intent", id. at 278. The dissent
would have affirmed the trial court's findings on both
the conspiracy and attempt charges. Id. at 282
(Bradford, J., concurring in part, dissenting in part).
granted transfer, thus vacating the Court of Appeals'
decision. We provide additional facts below.
reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence in a juvenile
adjudication, we do not reweigh the evidence or judge witness
credibility. K.S. v. State, 849 N.E.2d 538, 543
(Ind. 2006) (citation omitted). We consider only the evidence
favorable to the judgment and the reasonable inferences
supporting it. Id. We will affirm a
juvenile-delinquency adjudication if a reasonable trier of
fact could conclude that the defendant was guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt. Moran v. State, 622 N.E.2d 157,
159 (Ind. 1993) (citations omitted).
there is sufficient evidence to support the trial court's
adjudication of B.T.E. as a juvenile delinquent on the charge
of attempted aggravated battery. He engaged in conduct that
would constitute a substantial step toward the crime of
aggravated battery if committed by an adult. In addition, we
summarily affirm the Court of Appeals' disposition of two
other issues: that the State's continuance did not
deprive B.T.E. of a speedy hearing under Indiana Code section
31-37-11-2, and that there was sufficient evidence to support
the juvenile court's finding of conspiracy to commit
evidence supports B.T.E/s delinquency adjudication for
attempted aggravated battery.
Indiana, a person commits aggravated battery, a level 3
felony, if he "knowingly or intentionally inflicts
injury on a person that creates a substantial risk of death
or causes: (1) serious permanent disfigurement; (2)
protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily
member or organ; or (3) the loss of a fetus". Ind. Code
§ 35-42-2-1.5. And a person commits the crime of attempt
when, "acting with the culpability required for
commission of the crime, the person engages in conduct that
constitutes a substantial step toward commission of the
crime." Id. § 35-41-5-l(a). See also
State v. Van Cleave, 674 N.E.2d 1293, 1304 (Ind.
1996). "Whether a substantial step has occurred is a
question of fact, to be decided by the jury, based on the
particular circumstances of each case." State v.
Lewis, 429 N.E.2d 1110, 1116 (Ind. 1981) (citations
is no doubt B.T.E. acted with the scienter required to commit
aggravated battery. The object of his intentions, which
included killing two of his classmates, qualifies as
aggravated battery, and he does not argue otherwise. The only
unresolved issue is ...