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Shields v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

August 21, 2019

Randall Shields, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

          Appeal from the Marion Superior Court Cause No. 49G06-1708-F1-28990 The Honorable Mark D. Stoner, Judge

          Attorney for Appellant Joel M. Schumm Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Tyler G. Banks Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          BROWN, JUDGE.

         [¶1] Randall Shields appeals his convictions and sentence on two counts of child molesting as level 1 felonies and strangulation as a level 6 felony. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] In 2017, Shields lived with his thirteen-year-old daughter L.S. in a house in Indianapolis.[1] Shields slept on a couch in the front room of the house while L.S. slept on the floor. One day L.S. woke up to Shields touching her "whole body." Transcript Volume 2 at 139. Shields "kept telling [her] please," and she said "no." Id. He then pulled down her pants and underwear and "gave [her] oral sex." Id. She told him to stop, and he placed his hands on her throat and choked her. He told her to "give him oral sex," and she complied. Id. at 140. Shields then had sexual intercourse with L.S. for about ten minutes. Shields went back to the couch, and L.S. went to the bathroom and slept there. Weeks later after she missed her period and was throwing up, L.S. disclosed what had occurred to her mother, who took her to the hospital where she learned that she was pregnant. L.S. later went to Planned Parenthood because her mother wanted her to have an abortion. L.S. underwent a surgical termination of pregnancy in July 2017, and the procedure was painful. DNA testing comparing fetal tissue sample and a swab taken from Shields indicated that the probability of paternity by Shields was 99.9999 percent.

         [¶3] In August 2017, the State charged Shields with: Count I, child molesting for performing or submitting to sexual intercourse with L.S., a child under fourteen years of age, as a level 1 felony; Count II, child molesting for performing or submitting to other sexual conduct with L.S., a child under fourteen years of age, as a level 1 felony; Count III, incest as a level 4 felony; Count IV, criminal confinement as a level 5 felony; and Count V, strangulation as a level 6 felony. The State also alleged Shields was an habitual offender.

         [¶4] At the start of the trial, the court told the jury: "All of you except for . . . the second alternate, have been back in the jury room. While you were there, you might have noticed there's a full-size refrigerator. There's a microwave there. That is for your usage. So if you want to bring in snacks, food, anything that makes you comfortable for the rest of the day, please know that that's there as well." Id. at 106-107. The State presented the testimony of L.S., her mother, the forensic nurse who examined L.S. at the hospital, a detective, the physician who performed the surgical abortion, an office coordinator and medical assistant for Planned Parenthood, and the forensic scientist with the Indiana State Police Laboratory who prepared a certificate of analysis. L.S. testified regarding Shields's actions. When asked why she went to Planned Parenthood, L.S. answered that her mother wanted her to have an abortion. She indicated the pregnancy was ultimately terminated, and when asked how that felt, she stated that it hurt. The State introduced the fetal remains as State's Exhibit No. 10 and a certificate of analysis containing the results of the DNA test as State's Exhibit No. 11. When eliciting testimony from the detective, the prosecutor stated "I'm going to show you what I have marked as State's Exhibit 10 for identification" and asked what he recognized it to be, and the detective answered "[a]n envelope containing the product of conception related to this case." Id. at 178. After some discussion, State's Exhibit No. 10 was admitted without objection. Near the end of the day, the court told the jury when to arrive the following morning, to dress comfortably, and stated "I have no idea how long you will be here tomorrow" and, "[r]emember, you've got the refrigerator and you've got the microwave." Id. at 182.

         [¶5] Shortly after the court reconvened the following morning, the prosecutor stated "we just had the detective open the product of conception outside the presence of the jury so didn't actually get it out in front of them," and the court stated "[v]ery good" and "[a]ppreciate that." Id. at 190. Shields's counsel stated that the abortion itself was graphic and horrible and that his understanding from speaking with the State's witnesses was that the abortion procedure was particularly traumatic and L.S. was in extraordinary pain, and he argued that evidence was highly prejudicial. The physician who performed the abortion testified regarding the procedure and the removal, collection, and examination of the fetal tissue. The physician testified that she rinsed the tissue and examined it and that the purpose of examining it was to ensure that the tissue was complete and that all uterine contents had been removed. The forensic scientist testified regarding the process for testing the samples and the results. The following exchange occurred between the court, prosecutor, and defense counsel:

[Prosecutor]: . . . As to the product of conception, it is my understanding is it has to get back in the freezer. Can the detective take that back downstairs as soon as we read jury instructions?
[Court Reporter]: I have taken a picture of it.
[Prosecutor]: Yes.
[Court Reporter]: I took a picture of it last night.
The Court: Defense, do you have any . . . objection to that?
[Defense Counsel]: Judge, I'm sorry, say that again.
[Prosecutor]: Just as soon as we're done with jury instructions, can we take the, the product of conception back to the freezer?
[Defense Counsel]: Yeah, so they don't want it up here.
The Court: Okay. Well, again, but I will need to explain that to the jury that -
[Defense Counsel]: That's right.
The Court: - all exhibits will be sent back except for that one and the only reason why we're sending that one back is because ...

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