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Bethel v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 16, 2018

Steven Bethel, Appellant-Petitioner,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Respondent.

          Appeal from the St. Joseph Superior Court Trial Court Cause No. 71D08-1604-PC-46 The Honorable Elizabeth C. Hurley, Judge

          Attorney for Appellant Marielena Duerring South Bend, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Monika Prekopa Talbot Supervising Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Barteau, Senior Judge

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] Steven Bethel appeals the denial of his successive petition for post-conviction relief. We affirm.

         Issue

         [¶2] Bethel raises one issue, which we restate as: whether the post-conviction court erred in denying his claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] The facts of Bethel's case, as stated by the Indiana Supreme Court, are as follows:

[O]n March 5, 1991, the defendant agreed to assist Curtis Crenshaw in obtaining money and [ ] they went to the J & S Dairy Mart in South Bend, Indiana, at approximately 11:20 p.m. Armed with handguns, they approached Robaska and Wrobel, two store employees, as they were closing the store. The defendant held a gun to Robaska's head, Crenshaw grabbed Wrobel, and together they forced the two clerks back into the store. The defendant and Crenshaw tried unsuccessfully to obtain cash from the safe. One of the robbers threatened to shoot Robaska. They also forced Wrobel to empty his pockets, but he had no cash. The defendant and Crenshaw then took the two clerks back outside, told them to lie on the ground behind an ice machine, and began walking away. Robaska and Wrobel got up and observed the defendant and Crenshaw. Describing the ensuing events, Wrobel testified:
They were about fifteen feet away, and [Crenshaw] turned around, and he pointed the gun at us, and I grabbed Patty [Robaska] and pulled her back down because I knew what comes out of a gun. And we laid there, and we heard a fire.
There was no testimony as to the length of time that elapsed between the time Wrobel and Robaska went back down to the ground and the time the shot was fired. No witnesses testified as to the position of Crenshaw's weapon or the direction it was pointed when fired. There was no injury to either Robaska or Wrobel, nor was there evidence of bullet damage to the ice machine or surrounding area. No bullet was recovered.
Approximately ten minutes later, the defendant and Crenshaw entered the Burger Dairy store in South Bend and found three men inside. They robbed the three at gunpoint, taking cash from the register and a wallet from one of the men. During the robbery, Charles Flora attempted to enter the store, and the defendant pointed a gun at him. Flora ran to his van in the parking lot and called the police from his van. The defendant and Crenshaw came out of the store while Flora was still in the lot. The direct examination of Flora includes the following:
[Prosecutor] Did-before you were shot at, did you see the people that came out of the store? You said you saw them, right?
[Flora] When they both ran out of the store, they both looked directly at my van.
[Prosecutor] Did you see whether they had anything in their hands?
[Flora] They had a gun in their hand.
[Prosecutor] Both of them?
[Flora] I'm not sure if both of them did. One I know did.
[Prosecutor] Was the gun pointed ...

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