Cody J. Chambless, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
from the Allen Superior Court The Honorable John F. Surbeck,
Jr., Judge Trial Court Cause No. 02D06-1801-F5-1
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Nicholas F. Wallace Deputy Public
Defender Leonard, Hammond, Thoma & Terrill Fort Wayne,
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana J.T. Whitehead Deputy Attorney General
Cody J. Chambless ("Chambless") appeals his
convictions for Level 5 felony domestic battery,
Level 6 felony domestic battery,  and Level 6 felony
strangulation arising from the assault of his girlfriend
("K.B.") He raises three evidentiary issues and one
sufficiency of evidence issue, which we restate as follows:
I. Regarding admission of evidence, whether the trial court:
(A) committed fundamental error in admitting K.B.'s 911
phone call into evidence; (B) abused its discretion in
admitting K.B.'s statement to the medic who treated her
that Chambless was her attacker; and (C) abused its
discretion in admitting the jail phone conversation between
Chambless and K.B. in which K.B. accused Chambless of choking
II. Whether sufficient evidence supports Chambless's
and Procedural History
Chambless was K.B.'s boyfriend. Tr. Vol. 1 at
24. On Christmas day of 2017,
K.B. was living with Chambless in an Allen County apartment.
Id. at 24-25. K.B. was working ninety-six hours per
pay period as a cook at the Pilot truck stop while Chambless
was unemployed. Id. at 25. K.B. worked Christmas Eve
from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Christmas morning. Id.
at 26. She arrived home at about 7:25 or 7:30 a.m.; Chambless
was at home watching television and drinking. Id.
K.B. put on her pajamas and rested for a few hours, and when
she awoke, Chambless was still drinking. Id.
K.B. was tired of Chambless's drinking, which she
described as an everyday occurrence: "every time I come
home he's drinking, every time I wake up before work,
he's drinking . . . . So he was drinking and that really
upset me." Id. at 26-27. They argued and
fought; K.B. threatened to leave Chambless, warning him that
it was "his drinking or me." Id. at 27.
During the fight, Chambless punched holes in the wall and
broke a door on an upstairs bathroom. Id. at 27-28;
State's Ex. 6, 8. The fight occurred around
10:10 a.m. Id. at 52.
K.B. ran from the apartment to a BP gas station two or three
blocks away. Tr. Vol. 1 at 28-29, 48. Even though it
was cold outside, K.B., in her haste, did not don a winter
coat or boots, instead wearing only a shirt, pants, and
regular shoes. Id. 28-29, 53. When she arrived at
the BP station, K.B. told the employees about the fight, and
they called 911 for her. Id. at 28-29. During the
call, K.B. told the police that Chambless had beaten her.
Id. at 28. She also said that she was having trouble
breathing. Id. at 30. Her breathing sounded labored
and wheezy. See State's Ex. 1.
Medics, including Marah Bradbury ("Medic
Bradbury"), responded to the 911 call and tended to K.B.
at the gas station by checking her blood pressure and pulse.
Tr. Vol. 1 at 30, 47. K.B. told Medic Bradbury that
Chambless had assaulted her. Id. at 30, 48. Offering
more details, K.B. said that Chambless slapped her in the
face and strangled her with his hands, making her feel like
she would faint. Id. at 48. K.B. also told Medic
Bradbury that she escaped Chambless "just in time"
and ran to the gas station to call for help. Id.
Medic Bradbury observed abrasions to each side of K.B.'s
jaw and a bruise on the bottom of K.B.'s neck.
Id. at 47.
Police officers, including Officer Robert Geiger of the Fort
Wayne Police Department ("Officer Geiger"), also
responded to the 911 call, arriving at the BP station around
10:30 a.m. Id. at 36, 51-52. K.B. was still upset
and crying when she spoke with Officer Geiger; she told him
that she was still afraid. Id. at 37, 51. K.B. told
the officers that Chambless had strangled her. Id.
at 36. Officer Geiger observed redness around K.B.'s
neck. Id. at 53. Later that day, K.B. spoke to
Detective Michael Epps of the Fort Wayne Police Department
("Detective Epps"), and likewise told him that
Chambless had choked her. Id. at 40, 57. Detective
Epps observed a scratch on K.B.'s neck and swelling on
her left cheek. Id. at 57.
The State charged Chambless with three counts: Count I, Level
5 felony domestic battery with a prior domestic battery
conviction where K.B. was the victim; Count II, Level 6
felony domestic battery with a prior domestic battery
conviction where someone other than K.B. was the victim; and
Count III, Level 6 felony strangulation. Appellant's
App. Vol. II at 14-18.
Chambless was initially incarcerated at the Allen County
Jail. Upon placement there, inmates such as Chambless receive
a packet that tells them that the jail monitors inmate phone
calls. Tr. Vol. 1 at 61-62. The same information is
posted in every cell block. Id. at 62. When an
inmate uses a jail phone, an audio recording reminds the
inmate that the phone call is monitored. Id. On
December 26, 2017, while Chambless was in jail, he and K.B.
spoke on the phone about their fight from the previous night.
Id. at 65, 70; State's Ex. 11. In their
conversation, K.B. told Chambless: "you strangled the
fuck" out of me. Tr. Vol. 1 at 70;
State's Ex. 11.
At Chambless's jury trial, the State tendered, and the
trial court admitted, an audio recording of K.B.'s 911
call without objection from Chambless. Tr. Vol. 1 at
22-23. The trial court also admitted, this time over
Chambless's hearsay objection, the audio recording of
Chambless's phone call from jail to K.B. Id. at
63-65; 70; State's Ex. 11. The State tendered
Exhibit 11 through Corporal Jeff Kroemer of the Allen County
Sheriff's Department, who operated the phone system at
the Allen County Jail, and who listened to the conversation
between Chambless and K.B. The exhibit was published to the
jury. Tr. Vol. 1 at 66.
The State also elicited testimony, over Chambless's
objection, from Medic Bradbury, who recounted K.B.'s
statements to Medic Bradbury that Chambless had assaulted
K.B. by striking her and choking her and that she had escaped
"just in time" to run to the gas station for help.
Id. at 30, 40-41, 46-49.
When K.B. testified, she recanted her allegation that
Chambless had assaulted her. She said Chambless had not
choked her but that she had choked herself, explaining:
[K.B.]: Because I was just tired of everything, I'm tired
of the stress and going through everything. I was to the
point where I was just ready to end my life. I lost my
daughter six (6) years ago, towards, four (4) days before
Christmas, and living with that, it hurts. I've never
gotten help for it. I don't know if I ever will.
. . . .
[Defense counsel]: Okay. We just heard on the 911 call, as
[the deputy prosecutor] said, that you told them my boyfriend
assaulted me. Why would you tell them that?
[K.B.]: Cause I was just tired of everything, the stress,
everything going on at home, him drinking, him not working.
I'm the only one paying the bills. Yeah, he goes on
Craigslist and sells his stuff, trade his stuff to help out,
yeah. It helps out with the food and everything, and
cigarettes, but it's - the bigger picture I'm looking
at . . . bills, somewhere for us to live, and a roof over our
head, and it's just all the stress and everything. I ...