Danny L. Saintignon, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
from the Delaware Circuit Court Trial Court Cause No.
18C03-1503-MR-1 The Honorable Linda R. Wolf, Judge
Attorney for Appellant Ana M. Quirk Muncie, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Kelly A. Loy Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis,
OF THE CASE
Appellant-Defendant, Danny Saintignon (Saintignon), appeals
his conviction for conspiracy to commit burglary resulting in
bodily injury, a Class A felony, Ind. Code §§
35-43-2-1; 35-41-5-2; murder, I.C. § 35-42-1-1(1); and
robbery resulting in bodily injury, a Class B felony, I.C.
Saintignon presents five issues on appeal, which we
consolidate and restate as the following three issues:
(1)Whether the trial court abused its discretion or deprived
Saintignon of a defense when it excluded certain witnesses;
(2) Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it
admitted certain photographic evidence; and
(3) Whether the State produced sufficient evidence to prove
beyond a reasonable doubt that Saintignon committed
conspiracy to commit burglary resulting in bodily injury,
murder, and robbery resulting in bodily injury.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On December 23, 2009, Saintignon telephoned his friend Tyler
Barton (Barton) to enlist his help in robbing Monica
Brown (Brown), who lived in Muncie, Indiana, and
sold prescription pain medication. Brown had recently been to
Florida where she had purchased a large amount of medication.
Saintignon had a sexual relationship with Brown, who at times
supplied him with medication without charge. Brown usually
kept her medication supply in her purse. Saintignon proposed
to Barton that Saintignon would go to Brown's home, place
her purse with the medication in it by the front door, and
distract her with sex so that Barton could open the front
door and grab the purse. Between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. that
day, Saintignon and Barton drove to Brown's house so that
Barton would know where it was. They planned that Saintignon
would contact Barton later, Barton would park around the
corner from Brown's house, and Barton would wait for
Saintignon to text him that it was time to grab the purse.
The two split up. On December 24, 2009, Saintignon contacted
Barton around 1:00 a.m. They drove separately to Brown's
home, with Barton following Saintignon's car. Barton
observed Saintignon's car stop at Brown's house.
Barton drove on and parked around the corner in the
pre-arranged spot. Barton waited for several hours for
Saintignon to call or text him that it was time to grab
Brown's purse, but Saintignon never contacted him. Barton
eventually left. As he drove away, he could see
Saintignon's car still parked at Brown's house.
Around 4:40 a.m., Barton received a frantic call from
Saintignon that Barton had to meet him at Barton's
father's house. When Barton arrived at his father's
house, he noted that the back door had been kicked in.
Saintignon was inside wearing nothing but his underwear.
Barton thought that he saw a red speck on one of
Saintignon's shoes. Saintignon told Barton that "I
killed that bitch" by cutting her throat and stabbing
her. (Transcript Vol. V, p. 162). Saintignon also told Barton
that it had happened in a bedroom and that he had
"cleaned it up like a professional." (Tr. Vol. V,
p. 163). Saintignon had a dark-colored purse with him that
had an emblem in the form of an initial on it. The purse
contained prescription pain medication, some of which
Saintignon shared with Barton. Barton could see that the
purse also contained debit and food stamp cards. That
morning, Saintignon called the automated account for
Brown's Green Dot prepaid debit card and checked her
Saintignon put his clothes, his shoes, and the purse in a
trash bag. Barton and Saintignon drove out into the country
to find a place to burn the contents of the trash bag.
Saintignon instructed Barton not to talk about what had
happened and told him that if he were ever contacted by law
enforcement, that he should say that Saintignon had been with
him all that night playing video games because he was
fighting with his wife. Barton's car blew a tire, and
Saintignon contacted a friend to come and retrieve them.
While they were waiting, Brown's cell phone kept ringing,
so Saintignon removed it from the trash bag and threw it from
the car. Saintignon told Barton to burn the trash bag. Barton
later went back to his disabled car, took the trash bag to
his grandmother's, and hid it. Barton eventually threw
the trash bag away.
Around 11:00 a.m. on December 24, 2009, Brown's
daughters, K.B. and S.B., ages seventeen and ten,
respectively, went to Brown's home, where they found the
front door unlocked, which was unusual. Upon entering, they
found their younger brother running around the home and their
younger sister in her play pen, unattended. They found Brown
in a bedroom covered with a sheet. Her throat had been slit
with a cut that reached to her fifth vertebrae. She had been
stabbed and cut approximately eighty times, with ten of those
stabs puncturing her lungs and liver.
K.B., Brown's ex-husband, and others initially identified
Cecil Ferguson (Ferguson) as a suspect in Brown's
killing. Ferguson was interviewed in the days following
Brown's death but was eventually ruled out as a suspect
due to the fact that none of his DNA was found at the crime
scene, his phone records did not connect him to the killing,
and witnesses vouched for his whereabouts. Starting the day
after Brown's death, Saintignon contacted Brown's
brother multiple times to ask him if he knew the whereabouts
of the clip to Brown's .38 caliber handgun. Saintignon
claimed to have purchased the gun from Brown. During these
conversations, Saintignon told Brown's brother that he
was concerned that the authorities were monitoring his
telephone calls. On December 26, 2009, Officer Melissa Pease
(Officer Pease) of the Muncie Police Department (the MPD)
interviewed Saintignon. She noted that he had bruising on his
right bicep, scratches on his back, and a wound on his left
palm. Officer Pease documented these injuries with
photographs. Saintignon was questioned and released. The MPD
conducted a number of interviews, executed searches of
several homes, and collected DNA samples of Saintignon,
Ferguson, and others, but no arrests were made. Several weeks
after Brown's murder, Barton's father, Roy,
confronted Saintignon about involving Barton in trouble.
Saintignon told Roy that, "I killed the bitch."
(Tr. Vol. 6, p. 158). Saintignon asked Roy if he thought
Barton could be depended upon to uphold his alibi. Several
months after Brown's murder, Saintignon told his wife,
Sandrina, that he had slit Brown's throat because she had
incriminating information about him.
The case went cold until 2011, when Roy anonymously contacted
the MPD to report that Saintignon had killed Brown. The tip
led investigators to others who had information, including
Sandrina. On March 18, 2014, Barton gave a statement to the
MPD and was arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit
burglary resulting in bodily injury, attempted burglary
resulting in serious bodily injury, and assisting a criminal.
On March 30, 2015, based on the new information received from
Barton and others, the State filed an Information, charging
Saintignon with conspiracy to commit burglary resulting in
bodily injury as a Class A felony; murder; felony murder; and
robbery resulting in serious bodily injury as a Class A
felony. The trial court set an omnibus date of May 21, 2015.
By October of 2016, Barton had been released from jail
pending resolution of his charges. On October 21, 2016,
Barton received a direct message on a social media account
from Jonathan Polosky (Polosky), who was unknown to Barton.
Polosky wrote, "Hey, bro, you don't know me, this
legal shit you've got going on needs to stop. You know
what I'm talking about," which Barton took as a
suggestion that he refrain from testifying against
Saintignon. (Tr. Vol. V, pp. 186-87). Polosky also contacted
Barton's then girlfriend, Kaylee Corn (Corn), with a
message that her "old man" needed to "back
away." (Tr. Vol. VI, p. 48). Barton and Corn reported
the messages to the MPD, who used Barton's account to
contact Polosky and ask him what he was talking about.
Polosky responded, "[t]hat shit with [Saintignon]"
and "[i]f this is who it should be, stay away from the
courts." (Tr. Vol. VI, p. 62). On November 9, 2016, the
MPD interviewed Polosky, who admitted that, while they were
housed together at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility,
Saintignon had asked him to contact Barton and Corn to
attempt to convince Barton not to testify against Saintignon.
On November 16, 2016, the State filed an additional
Information, charging Saintignon with conspiracy to commit
obstruction of justice, a Level 6 felony. On August 16, 2017,
the trial court issued an order directing the parties to file
their final witness lists by September 1, 2017. On September
1, 2017, Saintignon filed a motion in limine seeking
to exclude evidence of any of his prior bad acts, including
his membership in the Aryan Brotherhood. On September 5,
2017, the State filed its response indicating that it did not
object to Saintignon's motion since it did not intend to
introduce any such evidence. The trial court granted
Saintignon's motion in limine. Saintignon's
jury trial was scheduled to begin Monday, September 25, 2017.
On Friday, September 22, 2017, Saintignon filed a notice to
the trial court and an amended witness list indicating for
the first time that the defense would call Jeff Burton
(Burton) as an alibi witness. The State filed a motion to
strike Saintignon's notice to the trial court on the
grounds that it constituted an improper and untimely notice
of alibi. At 10:41 p.m. on September 22, 2017, Saintignon
filed a belated notice of alibi defense. The State also moved
the trial court to strike that belated notice.
Saintignon's jury trial took place from September 25,
2017, to October 10, 2017. On September 25, 2017, before the
commencement of trial, the trial court held a hearing on the
belated notice of alibi filings. The trial court granted the
State's motion to strike the belated notice of alibi,
excluding Saintignon's alibi witness. During the
testimony of Officer Pease, the State sought to introduce the
photographs she had taken of Saintignon when she interviewed
him on December 24, 2009, documenting the injuries she
observed on his bicep, back, and hand. The photograph showing
the bicep injury was a frontal view of Saintignon nude from
the waist up. Three of Saintignon's tattoos were fully
visible, and three tattoos were partially visible in the
photograph. The defense objected on the basis that the
photograph violated the trial court's Order in
Limine excluding any evidence of Saintignon's
affiliation with the Aryan Brotherhood. The trial court
overruled Saintignon's objection and admitted the
photograph into evidence.
On October 4, 2017, the eighth day of trial, Saintignon
sought to call Ferguson as a witness, but Ferguson invoked
his Fifth Amendment right. The trial court found that
Ferguson was unavailable to testify and held a hearing on
evidentiary issues related to Ferguson, including the
admissibility of statements by proposed witnesses Bradley
Stone (Stone), Johnny Hines, Jr., (Hines), and
Robert Wine (Wine), all of whom Saintignon proposed would
testify that Ferguson had confessed to killing Brown. In
addition, Saintignon proposed that Tonya Ferguson (Tonya),
Ferguson's ex-wife, would testify that Ferguson had once
held knives to her throat and threatened to cut off her head.
The trial court excluded Stone, Hines, and Wine as witnesses
because their proposed statements were made at least three
years after Brown's murder, were not unique or reliable,
and had no "persuasive assurances of
trustworthiness." (Tr. Vol. VIII, pp. 19-20). The trial
court also excluded Tonya as a witness, finding that the acts
she would relate took place months before Brown's ...