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Johnson v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

November 29, 2018

Anthony J. Johnson, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

          Appeal from the Bartholomew Circuit Court Trial Court Cause No. 03C01-1803-F3-1704 The Honorable Kelly S. Benjamin, Judge.

          Attorney for Appellant Christopher L. Clerc Columbus, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Caroline G. Templeton Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Bailey, Judge.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] Anthony J. Johnson ("Johnson") appeals the trial court's order increasing his bail bond from $175, 000 to $500, 000. Johnson raises one issue on appeal which we restate as whether the trial court abused its discretion when it increased his bail bond.

         [¶2] We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] On March 28, 2018, a detective with the Columbus Police Department ("CPD") filed a probable cause affidavit in which he swore as follows. On January 30, 2018, and February 28, 2018, the CPD used a confidential informant ("CI") to conduct controlled buys of methamphetamine from Johnson. The CI conducted two more controlled buys of heroin from Johnson on March 21, 2018, and March 22, 2018. During the latter buy, Johnson forced the CI to remove her clothes so he could check for a wire. Initially, the CI removed only her shirt and bra, but Johnson forced her to remove her pants. Johnson forcibly put his fingers in the CI's vagina and pulled her towards him. The sergeant conducting the strip search of the CI afterwards noticed blood in the CI's underwear that was not there before the buy. The CI reported that Johnson scratched her vagina. She was then transported to the hospital for a sexual assault exam. Johnson was arrested on March 23, 2018, and after transporting him to the jail, the officer found methamphetamine and heroin in the back of his police car.

         [¶4] The State charged Johnson on March 28, 2018, with rape, as a Level 3 felony;[1] two counts of dealing methamphetamine, as Level 3 felonies;[2] two counts of dealing in a narcotic drug, as Level 5 felonies;[3] possession of methamphetamine, as a Level 5 felony;[4] and possession of a narcotic drug, as a Level 5 felony.[5] On May 14, 2018, Johnson filed a motion to reduce his bail bond, which had been set at $175, 000, and the court held a hearing on that motion on May 17.

         [¶5] Johnson testified at the hearing as follows. He is 39 years old and has lived in Indiana for thirteen or fourteen years. His mother still lives in Brooklyn, New York, but he has four children who live in Columbus, Indiana. Johnson is ordered to pay child support but owes an unknown amount in arrearage. Johnson was last employed in 2017 and held that job for approximately one month. Before that job, he did not have consistent employment and worked at a series of temporary jobs. Johnson's girlfriend's sister had promised him a job upon his release from jail. Johnson has arrests or convictions in Kentucky, New York, and Delaware, in addition to previous convictions in Indiana. In addition, in the past Johnson has failed to appear for two hearings in two different Indiana criminal cases.

         [¶6] Detective Kelly Hibbs ("Det. Hibbs") of the CPD testified as follows at the bond reduction hearing. After Johnson's arrest, the CI was assaulted by three people, sustaining injury to her head and a black eye. Det. Hibbs listened to recorded phone calls made by Johnson from the Bartholomew County Jail and was able to connect Johnson's communications to the assault of the CI. Johnson used the code words "wine stain" in reference to the CI and stated that, if the "wine stain" was "cleaned up" before his trial, he would be "good." Tr. at 24. Two of the perpetrators of the assault were in custody at the time of the bond hearing, while the police continue to search for the other perpetrator.

         [¶7] During the jail phone calls Det. Hibbs heard Johnson express a concern for his girlfriend's safety and arrange for her to obtain a gun. CPD officers executed a search warrant for Johnson's residence and found several firearms. Det. Hibbs testified that Johnson's "access to firearms is apparently readily available," and, based on Johnson's phone calls from jail, Det. Hibbs did not believe that Johnson "will do anything legally when he gets out." Tr. at 22.

         [¶8] At the conclusion of the hearing, the State asked the court to consider an increase in Johnson's bail bond. After summarizing the testimony, the ...

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