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Randall v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 11, 2018

Riley M. Randall, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

          Appeal from the DeKalb Superior Court The Honorable Monte L. Brown, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 17D02-1706-F3-4

          Attorney for Appellant John M. Haecker Squiller & Hamilton, LLP Auburn, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General Angela N. Sanchez Assistant Section Chief Criminal Appeals Indianapolis, Indiana

          CRONE, JUDGE.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] Riley M. Randall appeals his conviction following a jury trial for level three felony robbery while armed with a deadly weapon. He contends that the trial court abused its discretion in instructing the jury. Finding no abuse of discretion, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] The facts most favorable to the verdict indicate that on May 12, 2016, Randall purchased marijuana from Ron Wilkinson at Wilkinson's apartment in Garrett. Randall was short on cash, so he used a jar full of coins to purchase the marijuana. After leaving, Randall believed that Wilkinson had shorted him on the deal. Randall called Brandon Cardone, told him that Wilkinson had shorted him, and asked Cardone if he had a gun. Cardone informed Randall that he did have a gun. Cardone and another man, Zachary Burcham, who were both armed with guns, drove to meet Randall. Randall also called his friend, Jacob Johnston, and asked him to come with all three men to go to Wilkinson's apartment in order to "get a bag fixed" that "was light." Tr. Vol. 2. at 199. This meant that they were planning to go and "either get the monies [sic] worth back or get the rest of the marijuana." Id.

         [¶3] The men all got into Cardone's car, and Randall directed them to Wilkinson's apartment. When they arrived, Johnston decided to stay in the car while the others went inside the building. The men knocked on Wilkinson's door, and Wilkinson yelled for them to come in. Cardone and Burcham entered the apartment, and Randall stood outside at the top of the stairs. Cardone and Burcham ordered Wilkinson to the ground at gunpoint and asked him where his money and drugs were. One of the men took Wilkinson's wallet. Once Wilkinson was on the ground and in a position where he would not be able to see and identify Randall, Cardone went outside and tapped on the wall to signal Randall to come in to help. Randall eventually entered the apartment and located Wilkinson's safe. Randall grabbed the safe, as well as the jar of coins he had used to purchase the marijuana, and the three men ran out of the apartment. They returned to Cardone's car and reported to Johnston what had happened. The men had also taken Wilkinson's cell phone but dropped it in the parking lot.

         [¶4] All four men returned to the apartment where Randall had been staying and divided up the money and the drugs. Meanwhile, Wilkinson reported the crime to his apartment manager and called police. Wilkinson was later able to identify Randall from the apartment complex's surveillance video, but he did not recognize the other two men who entered his apartment. Police were unable to locate Randall that night. The next day, Randall went to the police station and told police that he had been kidnapped and forced to rob Wilkinson. He later told Johnston that they both should claim that Cardone and Burcham forced Johnston to force Randall to get them marijuana.

         [¶5] The State charged Randall with level 3 felony robbery while armed with a deadly weapon. Prior to trial, Randall tendered a proposed jury instruction on the statutory defense of duress, asserting that the evidence would show that he was an unwilling participant in the armed robbery. The trial court subsequently issued a written order denying the proposed instruction. Following a trial, the jury found Randall guilty as charged. The trial court imposed a nine-year sentence with two years suspended to probation. This appeal ensued.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶6] Randall asserts that the trial court abused its discretion in rejecting his tendered jury instruction regarding the statutory defense of duress. Thus, we must first determine whether the duress defense applies in the instant case. This is an issue of statutory construction, which we review de novo. Jones v. State, 87 N.E.3d 450, 454 (Ind. 2017). "Our goal is to determine the legislature's intent, which we do by following the plain and ordinary meaning of the statute's unambiguous language." Id.

         [¶7] We will then review whether the trial court abused its discretion. The manner of instructing a jury is left to the sound discretion of the trial court. Albores v. State, 987 N.E.2d 98, 99 (Ind.Ct.App. 2013), trans. denied. We review the trial court's decision only for an abuse of that discretion. Id. On review of a trial court's decision to refuse a proposed jury instruction, we consider whether the instruction (1) correctly states the law, (2) is supported by the evidence, and (3) is covered in substance by other instructions that are given. Id. We consider jury instructions as a whole and in reference to each ...


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