Jesse L. Payne, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
from the Parke Circuit Court The Honorable Sam A. Swaim,
Judge Trial Court Cause No. 61C01-0505-FB-79
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Stacy R. Uliana Bargersville, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Ian McLean Supervising Deputy Attorney General
of the Case
In Barcroft v. State, 111 N.E.3d 997, 1002-06 (Ind.
2018), the Indiana Supreme Court held that a
fact-finder's conclusion that a criminal defendant was
sane at the time of the commission of an offense could be
supported by circumstantial demeanor evidence alone, even if
the unanimous opinion of three court-appointed mental-health
experts was that the defendant was suffering from a
delusional psychosis at the time of the offense and that the
circumstantial demeanor evidence was consistent with the
defendant's delusions. In this appeal, Jesse L. Payne, a
diagnosed schizophrenic who has suffered from delusions and
hallucinations for a substantial part of his life, asserts
that the State failed to present sufficient evidence to show
that he was sane at the time he burned down two covered
bridges in Parke County and attempted to burn down a third.
In particular, he argues that the unanimous opinion of three
court-appointed mental-health experts was that he was not
sane at the time of the offenses and that the State's
circumstantial demeanor evidence was not probative of his
sanity because that evidence was consistent with Payne's
Following Barcroft, we hold that the State's
circumstantial demeanor evidence of Payne's behavior
before, during, and after his offenses is sufficient to
support the fact-finder's conclusion that Payne was sane
at the time of those offenses, notwithstanding the unanimous
opinion to the contrary by the three court-appointed
mental-health experts, and Payne's arguments on appeal
are merely requests for this Court to reweigh the evidence,
which we cannot do. We also reject Payne's other
arguments in this appeal. Accordingly, we affirm his
convictions for two counts of arson, one count of attempted
arson, and for being an habitual offender, and we also affirm
Payne's aggregate sentence of ninety years in the
Department of Correction.
and Procedural History
In 2002, the Jeffries Ford Covered Bridge in Parke County
burned down. The first Parke County firefighters to arrive at
the scene got there less than five minutes after the fire had
been reported. When they arrived, however, the "entire
bridge was on fire" and "the south span was already
collapsed" into the creek below. Tr. Vol. 4 at 10.
Subsequent investigation ruled out natural causes for the
initiation of the fire and determined that "an ignitable
liquid" had likely been used to burn down the bridge.
Id. at 25.
In April of 2005, Kristopher Bunting stayed at the Lighthouse
Mission in Terre
for a time. During that time, Payne, who was out on parole,
also stayed at the Lighthouse Mission. Around April 24,
comments Payne made led Bunting to conclude that Payne
"had a lot of hate," especially toward "Parke
County." Id. at 38. Bunting also observed Payne
reading numerous law-related books. Bunting was not
comfortable being around Payne.
At the Lighthouse Mission, Payne shared a room with David
Nolan. In the evening hours of April 27, Payne asked Nolan
"where the Mill Dam was," and Nolan told Payne that
it was a little ways "up north" in Bridgeton.
Id. at 48. Payne then "took off."
Id. The Bridgeton Covered Bridge was "very
close" to the mill dam. Id. at 11.
That same evening, Jason Doddridge was working at a Jiffy
Mini Mart in northwest Terre Haute. Shortly after Payne left
the Lighthouse Mission, Doddridge observed Payne enter the
Mini Mart and purchase one two-liter bottle of soda and
prepay for one gallon of gasoline. Doddridge then observed
Payne exit the store and "dump the soda from the
bottle." Id. at 67. Doddridge also noted that
Payne "did not pump a full gallon" of gasoline.
Id. Not long thereafter, a little past midnight on
April 28, Michael Long drove through Bridgeton and observed a
red Honda parked near a vending machine just south of the
Bridgeton Covered Bridge, which stood out to Long as
"not typical for the town of Bridgeton."
Id. at 71.
At 12:42 a.m. on April 28, Parke County firefighters received
a report that the Bridgeton Covered Bridge was on fire. The
first firefighters to arrive at the bridge got there
"less than a minute" after the fire had been
reported, but the bridge was already "fully
engulfed." Id. at 12. The Parke County
Sheriff's Department then instructed "the full-time
deputies . . . to check bridges" elsewhere in Parke
County. Id. at 84.
Meanwhile, in the early morning hours of April 28, Samantha
Hill, an employee of the BP gas station in Groveland,
observed Payne enter the store. Payne purchased one two-liter
bottle of soda and "some gas." Id. at 80.
Hill then observed Payne "[p]our . . . out" the
two-liter bottle of soda and the put "gas in the
two[-]liter" bottle. Id. at 81. Payne then
Around 1:40 a.m., Parke County Sheriff's Deputy Mike
Watts went to Mansfield, which is between Bridgeton and
Groveland, "to check the covered bridge there."
Id. Deputy Watts observed Payne near the Mansfield
Covered Bridge and asked Payne for his identification. Payne
immediately responded that he "had a receipt to show
where he had been." Id. at 85. Payne also
volunteered that "he had a bottle of gasoline in his
vehicle," a nearby red Honda. Id. at 86. Deputy
Watts observed that Payne was not "nervous at all"
and did not present himself in a manner that suggested to
Deputy Watts that Payne may have suffered from mental
illness. Id. at 94.
Parke County Sheriff's Deputy Eddie McHargue joined
Deputy Watts shortly after Deputy Watts had arrived in
Mansfield. Deputy McHargue "didn't see any problems
with [Payne] at all" that suggested Payne may have
suffered from mental illness. Id. at 117. Deputy
McHargue read Payne his Miranda warnings and then
inquired about Payne's recent routes of travel. Payne
responded by saying that he had left Terre Haute to camp at
Raccoon Lake and needed some gasoline for a campfire, and so
Payne went to a nearby gas station, in Groveland, to get that
gasoline, which he put in a two-liter bottle. Payne further
responded that, after having obtained that gasoline, he
decided not to camp at Raccoon Lake after all, that he wanted
a soda, and that he knew there was a vending machine near the
Mansfield Covered Bridge.
When asked why he did not get his gasoline at a more
convenient gas station in Rockville given Payne's
described route of travel, Payne said that he must not have
seen any open gas stations in Rockville. When asked why he
went out of his way to go to Mansfield for a soda, Payne
simply said "he knew there was a pop machine"
there. Id. at 104. And when Deputy McHargue asked
Payne how Payne had navigated around some construction on
Payne's described route of travel, which construction did
not in fact exist, Payne gave an explanation for navigating
around the nonexistent construction.
Deputy McHargue informed Payne that he did not think Payne
was "being truthful," and he asked Payne if Payne
would submit to a polygraph examination. Id. at 108.
Payne agreed and the officers immediately escorted him to a
nearby police station where Parke County Sheriff Charles L.
Bollinger administered the test. Following that examination,
Sheriff Bollinger concluded that Payne had exhibited a
"strong likelihood of deception" and
"untruthfulness." Id. at 154. Officers
then detained Payne in the Parke County Jail on a parole
hold. Less than one week later, Payne agreed to take an
additional polygraph examination regarding the Jeffries Ford
Covered Bridge fire in 2002. However, before that examination
commenced, Payne admitted to having started that fire as well
as having set fire to the Bridgeton Covered Bridge.
The State charged Payne with arson of the Jeffries Ford
Covered Bridge, arson of the Bridgeton Covered Bridge,
attempted arson of the Mansfield Covered Bridge, and for
being an habitual offender. At his ensuing jury trial, Payne
asserted the defense of insanity. Dr. Ashan Mahmood, a
court-appointed psychiatrist, reviewed Payne's lengthy
medical history, the police reports of the incidents in
question, and the probable cause affidavit. He also
interviewed Payne. Dr. Mahmood testified that "the
records have been quite consistent in a long[-]term mental
illness with a similar pattern of delusions, hallucinations,
[and] non-adherence to medications[ and] requirement[s] of
treatment." Tr. Vol. 5 at 74-75. Dr. Mahmood further
testified that Payne's mental illness and symptoms have
been "prevalent." Id. at 75. He then
testified that he had diagnosed Payne with
"schizophrenia" with "prominent delusions[
and] hallucinations," which illness had prohibited Payne
from appreciating the wrongfulness of his arsons and
attempted arson. Id. at 92.
Dr. Jeffrey Huttinger, a court-appointed psychologist,
similarly reviewed Payne's long medical history and
Payne's "interact[ion] with the officers."
Id. at 112. Dr. Huttinger also interviewed Payne.
Like Dr. Mahmood, Dr. Huttinger testified that he had
diagnosed Payne with "schizophrenia, paranoid type"
at the time of the arsons and attempted arson, and Dr.
Huttinger testified that Payne's illness prohibited Payne
from appreciating the wrongfulness of his conduct at those
times. Id. at 99-102. Dr. Huttinger further
testified that Payne's demeanor near the time of the 2005
crimes-including "leaving suddenly from the Mission
house . . ., purchasing gas[, ] and . . . when he interacted
with the police officers," and also including Payne
having a "plan" for the crimes and an apparent
cover story ready-would not be inconsistent with
schizophrenia if those acts were "driven by some type of
delusion." Id. at 112-18. As Dr. Huttinger
explained, "sometimes schizophrenics . . . can make
rational decisions even though they are . . . going through a
. . . psychosis . . . . [T]hey can look like they are doing
okay" but under proper questions and examination a
professional might discover that there are "more
bizarre" thoughts at issue. Id. at 118.
Payne and the State also jointly stipulated to the admission
of a report by Dr.Rebecca Mueller, a court-appointed
psychiatrist. Dr. Mueller reviewed the charging information,
the probable cause affidavit, and Payne's medical
history. She also interviewed Payne. According to Dr.
Mueller's report, at the time of the offenses Payne
suffered from schizophrenia; he "had extended periods of
time where he experienced auditory and/or visual
hallucinations and delusions"; he was "insane at
the time of the alleged offenses"; and he "was
unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct at the
time of the alleged offenses." Ex. Vol. 7 at 125-26
(emphases removed). No other experts testified or provided
other evidence for or against Payne's insanity defense.
The jury rejected Payne's insanity defense and instead
found Payne guilty but mentally ill for the arson of the
Jeffries Ford Covered Bridge, the arson of the Bridgeton
Covered Bridge, and the attempted arson of the Mansfield
Covered Bridge. The jury also found Payne to be an habitual
offender. The trial court entered its judgment of conviction
accordingly, and, following a separate hearing, the court
sentenced Payne to an aggregate term of ninety years in the
Department of Correction. This appeal ensued.