Riley M. Randall, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff
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
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.
and Procedural History
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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 ...