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Ramsey v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

April 30, 2019

Brian Ramsey, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

          Appeal from the Floyd Superior Court The Honorable Susan D. Orth, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 22D01-1711-F5-2392

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Matthew J. McGovern Anderson, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Ellen H. Meilaender Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          TAVITAS, JUDGE.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] Brian Ramsey appeals his convictions for criminal confinement, a Level 5 felony, and intimidation, a Level 6 felony. We affirm.


         [¶2] Ramsey raises two issues on appeal, which we restate as follows:

         I. Whether the trial court abused its discretion in admitting certain evidence.

         II. Whether sufficient evidence supports Ramsey's conviction for intimidation.


         [¶3] During the relevant period, Rhonda Crone ("Rhonda") and her husband, Bruce Crone[1] ("Bruce"), separated, and Rhonda began dating Ramsey. From November 4 to November 11, 2017, Ramsey and Rhonda were live-in guests of Rhonda's niece, Cassandra Butcher (a.k.a. Cassandra Crone), in Cassandra's Floyd County apartment. During the visit, Cassandra accused Rhonda of having an affair with Cassandra's husband. Ramsey became angry and beat Rhonda viciously over the ensuing three or four days.

         [¶4] On November 10, 2017, a neighbor overheard the commotion and called the police. When responding police officers knocked at the door, Ramsey kept Rhonda and Cassandra in a bathroom and would not allow them to answer the door. At one point, Ramsey left the apartment; however, before he left, Ramsey told Rhonda and Cassandra that he would kill their children if they left the apartment.

         [¶5] On November 11, 2017, Rhonda's brother, James Clemons, became concerned because he had not heard from Rhonda, could not reach her on her cell phone, and had not seen any online activity from her in nearly two weeks. Clemons looked for Rhonda at her son's house and then contacted Bruce. Bruce told Clemons that Rhonda was visiting Cassandra. Clemons and Bruce went to Cassandra's apartment together. When they arrived, Ramsey was not there. Rhonda and Cassandra were "terrified." Tr. Vol. I p. 118. Rhonda was so badly battered that Clemons did not recognize her and "thought all of her bones in her face w[ere] broke[n]." Id. at 114. Rhonda told Clemons that Ramsey had beaten her. Rhonda was afraid to be there when Ramsey returned. Clemons called the police.

         [¶6] Officer Tim Wells of the New Albany Police Department was among the officers who responded to the scene. Rhonda and Cassandra reported that Ramsey held them against their will for four days and had threatened to harm their children if Rhonda and Cassandra left the apartment. Officer Wells observed that Rhonda exhibited "behavior . . . of someone that had, to me, had been through a traumatic ordeal and she was very upset and almost to the point of [being] inconsolable"; Rhonda was "visibly shaken [and] nervous" and had "[e]xtremely severe" injuries, including black eyes, facial bruises and fractures, and significant bruising all over her body.[2] Id. at pp. 143, 158. Rhonda was transported to Floyd Memorial Hospital, where she remained admitted for three days; she was then transferred to an Indianapolis hospital for an additional three or four days. Cassandra appeared uninjured.

         [¶7] Officer Wells interviewed Rhonda at the hospital. Rhonda again reported that Ramsey accused her of infidelity; beat her over a three-day span; destroyed her phone when she tried to call the police; stopped her from speaking with responding police on November 10, 2017; prevented both Rhonda and Cassandra from leaving Cassandra's apartment; and threatened to harm Rhonda's and Cassandra's children if they left the apartment.

         [¶8] Officer Wells later returned to Cassandra's apartment and found Ramsey there. Ramsey maintained that Rhonda was lying; he denied hitting or confining Rhonda or Cassandra, breaking Rhonda's phone, and preventing Rhonda and Cassandra from speaking to the police. He also denied threatening Rhonda's and Cassandra's children and implied that Rhonda's injuries were self-inflicted. Ramsey conceded that he might have injured Rhonda in his efforts to protect her from self-harming and implicated Cassandra as the suspect.

         [¶9] On November 13, 2017, the State charged Ramsey with various offenses stemming from the attack on Rhonda. The State subsequently amended the information to reflect the following charges: Count I, criminal confinement, a Level 5 felony; Count II, domestic battery, a Level 6 felony;[3] Count III, intimidation, a Level 6 felony; Count IV, interference with the reporting of a crime, a Class A misdemeanor; and Count V, a habitual offender enhancement.[4]

         [¶10] At the final pretrial conference in January 2018, the State reported that, in a departure from her initial cooperative behavior, Cassandra was now "acting differently, not being responsive to the [State's] phone calls, changed [her] number and didn't, uh, give [ ] an update and ha[d] not been responsive to visits to her address by [police] investigators." Id. at 18. Also, the State advised the trial court that multiple agencies had tried and failed to find Cassandra. Days before trial, Rhonda recanted her previous statements implicating Ramsey.[5]

         [¶11] The trial court conducted Ramsey's jury trial on February 19 and 20, 2018. The State's witnesses testified to the foregoing facts. When the State moved to admit Rhonda's medical records, defense counsel objected.[6] The State argued that Rhonda's statements that Ramsey had threatened to harm her children were allowable under the hearsay exception for statements made for medical diagnosis or treatment. Counsel for the State argued:

It's very clear in the rule of 803(4), [ ] a statement made by a person seeking medical diagnosis or treatment, and it is made reasonably pertinent to medical diagnosis or treatment, and describes the medical history, past or present symp-symptoms. Right, it is, [ ] they're attempting to treat her, but that's the theory behind it. If you're asking a patient what happened to you, we're trying to treat you.

Id. at 131. Defense counsel objected to narrative aspects of the medical records on the grounds that the narratives contained irrelevant information; the defense was "unable to cross examine any person who observed that or put that into the notes into the record"; and because the narratives "read more like a probable cause affidavit" than guidance to medical service providers.[7] Id. at 127. In discussing the admissibility of the narratives, defense counsel and the trial court engaged in the following exchange:

[Defense counsel]: [ ] I don't believe she talked about being separated. I know that Mr. Clemons said, but not Ms. Crone. [S]he did say that she was staying at her niece[']s. [ ] I don't see her being unemployed and no source of income has any baring [sic] or relevance on her injuries or how she had been diagnosed or how that's helpful. [A]nd again, what-what the medical personnel should be concerned with and for that, for evidentiary purposes of substantiating her injury (about three words indiscernible)[.]
THE COURT: Well, I-I agree that how an injury occurred, how old an injury is, how length of time it-it occurred over are all things that are relevant and I think this all goes--
[Defense counsel]: I mean . . . .
THE COURT: --toward that assessment. . . .[S]o let me, [ ] overrule your objection to that extent, but what I'm looking at right now is in narrative number 4. I'm still struggling with that.
[Defense counsel]: Right. I believe that's not relevant.
[Counsel for the State]: We can redact narrative number 4.[8]

Id. at 131-32.

         [¶12] The State then introduced Rhonda's medical records that described Rhonda's "[h]istory of ...

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