Meghan E. Price, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
from the Morgan Circuit Court The Honorable Matthew G.
Hanson, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 55C01-1706-F1-1253
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Glen E. Koch, II Boren Oliver &
Coffey, LLP Martinsville, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Justin F. Roebel Deputy Attorney General
OF THE CASE
Appellant-Defendant, Meghan Price (Price), appeals her
conviction for neglect of a dependent resulting in death, a
Level 1 felony, Ind. Code § 35-46-1-4(b)(3).
Price presents one issue on appeal, which we restate as:
Whether the trial court abused its discretion by admitting
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Price's son, B.P., was on born in June 2011. As an
infant, B.P. exhibited difficulties in gaining weight and had
developmental delays. Subsequent genetic testing revealed
that B.P.'s developmental delays were attributed to a
condition called Fragile X chromosome. Fragile X is an
indicator of autism, and it is associated with lack of
impulse control, disruptive behavior, and aggressiveness.
Significant developmental delays followed with B.P.'s
speech being limited to single words until age four, followed
by a limited vocabulary of approximately 25 words. B.P. also
had a history of self-injurious behavior.
On July 14, 2014, an officer from the Morgan County
Sheriff's Department was dispatched to Price's
residence after receiving a report of a domestic dispute.
Price informed the officer that B.P. had incurred some
bruising while in the care of her boyfriend, Steven Ingalls
(Ingalls). Ingalls was not present when the officer arrived.
During the visit, the officer noted that B.P. had a scratch
above his ear, a bruise to the right side of his forehead,
and a purple bruise on his cheek. Price indicated that the
domestic dispute resulted following a verbal altercation with
Ingalls regarding B.P.'s injuries. After taking pictures
of B.P.'s injuries, the officer left but reported the
incident to the Department of Child Services (DCS). Price
thereafter notified her family members and friends that
Ingalls had moved out and she did not intend on dating him
again. A few months later, Price and Ingalls resumed their
On November 18, 2015, Price called St. Vincent Hospital
pediatric emergency department claiming that B.P. had
ingested an unknown substance at a grocery store, had dilated
eyes, and a low heart rate. Price stated that she was on her
way to the hospital. Ingalls went with Price. While treating
B.P., the attending nurse instructed Price to change B.P.
into a gown. As the nurse was inquiring about B.P.'s
medical history, she noticed that B.P. had "quite a bit
of scratches on his face and neck and bruising all over his
body." (Tr. Vol. VIII, p. 57). Based on B.P.'s
injuries, the attending nurse contacted a social worker, who
in turn interviewed Ingalls and Price. During the interview,
Ingalls was "dismissive," and at "one point,
he stormed out of the room" but later returned to finish
the child abuse assessment. (Tr. Vol. VIII, p. 43).
On December 1, 2015, B.P. began preschool at Waverly
Elementary School. On B.P.'s third day of school, Price
informed the teacher that B.P. had injured his penis with his
zipper. While changing B.P.'s diaper that day, the
teacher observed the head of B.P.'s penis "was
extremely bruised." (Tr. Vol. VI, p. 50). As the school
year progressed, B.P. missed school with unexcused absences
on twenty-five days. B.P. would return from those absences
with new injuries, and Price would offer an explanation. The
school nurse documented B.P.'s injuries as follows:
multiple bruises on December 15, 2015; a large knot on his
head on February 1, 2016; various bruises on his head
including a "large green bruise on left forehead with a
large knot" and eyelid bruising on February 11, 2016;
bruises "all over [the] sides [of his] head" and
other bruises all over his body "in various stages of
healing" on March 3, 2016. (State's Ex. Vol. II,
p.160). In February 2016 and March 2016, the school contacted
DCS about the injuries.
In the fall semester of 2016, B.P. had a total of nineteen
absences. The school nurse continued to document B.P.'s
injuries: Pinch marks all over his penis; pinch like
"bruise on his left ear," and "busted
lip." (State's Ex. Vol. II, p.160). In September
2016, B.P. was treated for a broken arm and for a face
laceration. The school bus driver also saw Price threaten
"to pop [B.P.] right in the mouth" for using foul
language. (Tr. Vol. VI, p. 79). In October 2016, B.P. was
withdrawn from the school. Price conveyed to a friend that
she was homeschooling B.P. since she was "over the
crap" of B.P.'s school reporting her to DCS
regarding B.P.'s injuries. (Tr. Vol. V, p. 187).
On November 8, 2016, B.P. was seen at St. Vincent Hospital
for a lip laceration and underwent surgery two days later. On
November 15, 2016, Price took B.P to St. Vincent Hospital yet
again since he was having trouble breathing. The treating
physician did not observe breathing difficulties in B.P., but
he noticed that B.P. had bruising underneath both eyes.
During a follow up appointment on November 22, 2016, B.P. was
diagnosed with asthma and a sinus infection.
On November 23, 2016, at approximately 10:00 a.m., an
unidentified male voice called 911 and reported that there
was an unconscious, unresponsive child that was not breathing
at Price's apartment. Moments later, emergency trained
technicians (EMTs), firefighters, and police arrived at
Price's apartment building. Ingalls was observed
"walking around" like a "complete
bystander" with "no emotion" holding his
infant son and B.P.'s younger brother. (Tr. Vol. IV, pp.
134-35). EMTs then heard someone yell for help inside the
building. The EMTs found B.P. who was unconscious at the
bottom of the common stairway. When the EMTs asked Price what
had happened, Price said that B.P. went to bed at 8:30 p.m.
the night before, and that shortly before 911 was called, she
checked on him and found him unresponsive.
The EMTs attempted CPR but were unable to open B.P.'s
jaw. After efforts to set up an airway failed, they placed an
oxygen mask over B.P.'s mouth and nose. One of the EMTs
then picked up B.P. and carried him to the ambulance. Inside
the ambulance, the EMTs inserted an IV and gave B.P. one dose
of "epinephrine," and they arrived at the hospital
shortly thereafter. (Tr. Vol. IV, p. 138).
Detective Chad Richhart (Detective Richhart) of the
Mooresville Police Department arrived as the ambulance was
leaving with B.P. Because Price and Ingalls could not ride
with B.P. in the ambulance, Detective Richhart and another
officer transported them to the hospital. Price was barefoot,
and she went back to the apartment to retrieve her shoes
before going to the hospital. Price's neighbor, Tiffany
Hall, Ingalls, and Detective Richhart followed Price to the
apartment. Detective Richhart stood by the apartment's
doorway. While waiting for Price to get ready, Detective
Richhart "saw [Price] once or twice come up and down the
hallway [and] into the living room" and ask Ingalls
"where is the camera card, where is the camera
card?" (Tr. Vol. VII, p. 133). Detective Richhart rode
with Ingalls, while Price rode with the other officer to the
At the hospital, Price and Ingalls made inconsistent
statements regarding B.P.'s mouth injury and when B.P.
was last seen in his normal state. For example, Price
informed a family friend at the hospital that "when the
EMTs tried to intubate [B.P] . . . they ripped his lip
open." (Tr. Vol. V, p. 236). Price later informed that
same friend that she had found B.P. "unresponsive,
hanging over the side of his bed," and that she carried
him to the living room and then "used a flathead
screwdriver to pry his mouth open so she could"
administer CPR on him. (Tr. Vol. VI, pp. 9-10).
As soon as Detective Richhart dropped Ingalls off at the
hospital, he went back to the apartment. After briefly
talking to another officer at the scene, Detective Richhart
determined that Price's apartment was not secure. Also,
Detective Richhart hoped that the walkthrough could be
helpful to detect any apparent dangerous substances that B.P.
might have ingested, and he intended to convey that
information to the doctors who were treating B.P. During his
walkthrough, Detective Richhart saw some blood on the bedding
in B.P.'s bedroom, and on the bedroom floor carpet.
Shortly thereafter, Detective Richhart and the other officer
exited Price's apartment. At approximately 10:38 a.m.,
Detective Richhart received a call from the hospital that
B.P. had died.
Detective Richhart instructed another officer to seek a
search warrant for the apartment. After the warrant was
issued, the officers began processing Price's apartment
for evidence. In B.P.'s bedroom, the officers found a
blood spot on the carpet, and inside the closet. They
recovered a "green pillow that also had some blood and a
greenish fluid" which seemed like vomit. (Tr. Vol. IV,
p. 187). The officers also found a flathead screwdriver on a
table that had blood. The officers also documented the
medications in the apartment and counted the pills.
At around 11:00 a.m., Ingalls and Price returned to the
apartment, and Price was furious that the officers were
conducting a search of her apartment and could not let her
inside. While searching B.P.'s bedroom, the officers
located a camera by B.P.'s bed. Detective Richhart went
outside and asked Price how the camera worked, and Price said
that it "sort of" ran "like a monitor"
and that it recorded video footage and sent it to "an
app" on Price's cellphone. (Tr. Vol. VII, p. 140).
Detective Richhart asked Price if he could have her phone,
and Price indicated that it was in the house. Detective
Richhart eventually found Price's cellphone in
Price's bedroom, but it had no power. Detective Richhart
took the phone to Price, who was sitting outside the
apartment in a vehicle, to seek help.
After the phone had powered, Price informed Detective
Richhart that she needed to check several things on her
phone. Detective Richhart informed Price that he
"didn't want her accessing the phone at that
time." (Tr. Vol. VII, p. 142). After about "twenty
or thirty seconds" of Price "actively . . . hitting
the screen," Detective Richhart reached into the car and
grabbed the cellphone from Price. (Tr. Vol. VII, p. 142).
Detective Richhart then ordered another officer to obtain a
warrant to search Price's cellphone.
B.P.'s autopsy revealed that he was a "very
frail" five-year-old weighing about thirty-five pounds.
(Tr. Vol. V, p. 133). B.P.'s cause of death was
determined to be asphyxiation and the effects of elevated
levels of several medications. The toxicology report revealed
that B.P. had "very elevated levels" of two
medications-Sertraline and Clonidine. Sertraline is an
antidepressant which, in high doses, can cause
"depression of the respiratory system." (Tr. Vol.
V, p. 103). Clonidine is a blood pressure medication which
treats anxiety and it can cause the lowering of "blood
pressure." (Tr. Vol. V, p. 103). Also, the toxicology
report showed that Risperidone, a prescribed drug that treats
schizophrenia, was found in B.P.'s body. When the three
drugs are used together, they can cause drowsiness,
sleepiness, and low blood pressure.
By another search warrant, Price's phone was searched.
There were several texts messages between Price and Ingalls.
On November 12, 2016, two weeks before B.P. died, Price and
Ingalls exchanged a long series ...