Jason M. Morris, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
from the Elkhart Superior Court The Honorable Gretchen S.
Lund, Judge The Honorable Eric Ditton, Magistrate Trial Court
Cause No. 20D04-1708-CM-1593
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Donald R. Shuler Barkes, Kolbus, Rife
& Shuler, LLP Goshen, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Justin F. Roebel Supervising Deputy Attorney
General Indianapolis, Indiana
Summary and Issues
After Jason Morris was convicted and sentenced in city court,
he sought a trial de novo in superior court. Following a
bench trial, the trial court found Morris guilty of public
indecency, a Class A misdemeanor, and sentenced him to one
year executed. This case presents three issues for our
review: (1) whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain
Morris' conviction; (2) whether the trial court abused
its discretion by imposing a harsher sentence than the city
court; and (3) whether Morris' sentence is inappropriate
in light of the nature of the offense and his character.
Concluding the evidence is sufficient to support Morris'
conviction, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in
sentencing Morris, and Morris' sentence is not
inappropriate, we affirm.
and Procedural History
In April 2016, Morris picked up fourteen-year-old M.Mc. for
an arranged sleep over with his stepdaughter, M.M. Morris was
accompanied by a friend, Leann, and his younger daughter.
Before returning to his house, Morris dropped his younger
daughter off at a class and then drove to Goshen General
Hospital so Leann could drop something off. Morris parked
near the main entrance of the hospital and Morris and M.Mc.
remained in his truck while Leann went inside. M.Mc. asked
Morris for a cigarette and he asked M.Mc. what she was
"going to do for it[?]" Transcript, Volume II at
41. Morris began discussing a 2015 pool party that Morris,
his wife, M.Mc., and M.M. attended where Morris' wife had
"pantsed him[, ]" and M.Mc. caught a glimpse of
Morris' penis. Id. at 40. Morris asked M.Mc. if
she "liked seeing [his penis]" and asked her if she
would mind seeing it again. Id. at 41. After M.Mc.
declined, Morris unzipped his pants and exposed his penis.
Id. Although M.Mc. was sitting in the back seat of
the truck, she testified that she saw Morris' genitals
when he exposed himself to her. M.Mc. looked away, stated she
needed to use the restroom, and the two went inside the
hospital. After M.Mc. used the restroom, Leann was ready and
the three left.
M.Mc. then went to Morris' home for the sleepover with
M.M., revealed the incident to M.M., and attempted to contact
her mother. The next day, Morris' wife confronted M.Mc.
and accused her of stealing cigarettes. Ultimately, M.Mc.
went home early, but prior to leaving, someone in Morris'
family "threatened to kill [her] family if [she] said
anything." Id. at 46. Because M.Mc. was
"distraught, shaking, upset, and crying" when she
returned, her mother took her to see her therapist and M.Mc.
disclosed the incident, which the therapist then reported to
child protective services. Brief of Appellee at 7; see
also Tr., Vol. II at 67, 77
In December 2016, the State charged Morris with public
indecency, a Class A misdemeanor. Morris was first tried in
in Goshen City Court on May 25, 2017, and was found guilty of
public indecency and sentenced to a one-year suspended
sentence with reporting probation. Morris subsequently sought
a trial de novo by filing a notice of appeal and the case was
transferred to the Elkhart Superior Court. Following a bench
trial on June 4, 2018, during which M.Mc. testified, the
trial court found Morris guilty and sentenced him to one year
executed in the county jail. Morris now appeals.
and Decision I. Sufficiency of the Evidence
Morris challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting
his conviction. Specifically, he contends his conviction was
based solely on M.Mc.'s testimony, which he alleges was
"not substantively corroborated by other evidence in the
record" and her "mere allegations[, ]" absent
corroborating evidence, do not satisfy the burden of proof.
Appellant's Brief at 10.
Our standard of review for sufficiency of the evidence claims
is well settled. D.J. v. State, 88 N.E.3d 236, 241
(Ind.Ct.App. 2017). Upon review, we do not reweigh the
evidence or judge the credibility of the witnesses.
Purvis v. State, 87 N.E.3d 1119, 1124 (Ind.Ct.App.
2017). We consider only the evidence most favorable to the
verdict and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom.
Id. We will affirm a defendant's conviction if
"there is substantial evidence of probative value
supporting each element of the crime from which a reasonable
trier of fact could have found the defendant guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt." Stewart v. State, 866 N.E.2d
858, 862 (Ind.Ct.App. 2007).
To convict Morris, the State was required prove each element
of public indecency beyond a reasonable doubt. Ind. Code
§ 35-41-4-1(a). "A person who knowingly or
intentionally, in a public place . . . appears in a state of
nudity with the intent to arouse the sexual desires of the
person or another person . . . commits public indecency, a
Class A misdemeanor." Ind. Code § 35-45-4-1(a)(3).
After the bench trial, ...