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Falls v. State

Supreme Court of Indiana

October 8, 2019

Rodney W. Falls, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

          Appeal from the Kosciusko Superior Court, No. 43D03-1802-F6-166 The Honorable Joe V. Sutton, Judge

          On Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 18A-CR-2948

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT, RODNEY FALLS Donald R. Shuler Goshen, Indiana.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE, STATE OF INDIANA Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana, Tiffany A. McCoy Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         A Kosciusko County jury convicted Rodney Falls of stalking, a Level 6 felony, for following college student A.G.'s vehicle for more than two hours as she attempted to evade him. Falls's relentless pursuit of A.G. ended only after she pulled into the parking lot of the Warsaw Police Department for the second time and sought help.

         The Court of Appeals affirmed Falls's conviction and sentence. It held that, under the totality of the circumstances, Falls's actions fit the statutory definition of stalking, which requires repeated or continuing harassment, even though his actions took place over the course of less than three hours.

         We grant transfer to reaffirm that a charge of stalking may be supported by conduct that is continuous in nature, even if it is a single episode.

         Background and Procedural History

         On the morning of February 13, 2018, as 19-year-old A.G. was stopped at a red light during the trip from Valparaiso back to her college in the Warsaw area, she observed Falls waving from the vehicle next to her. A.G. ignored Falls, but she noticed that he immediately got behind her as she drove away, and continued to follow her-mimicking her actions, traveling down the same roads, and trailing closely behind her-for the next hour to hour and a half. Running low on gas but afraid she would be in danger if she stopped, A.G. decided to continue to Warsaw.

         After exiting the highway in Warsaw, A.G. took a circuitous route, driving up and down the same side streets to ensure that it was not a coincidence that Falls continued to follow her. A.G. drove to the Warsaw Police Department for help, but when she parked in the station's parking lot, Falls pulled in between A.G.'s vehicle and the building entrance.

         A.G. returned to the residential streets, and again, Falls followed her. A.G. called 911 to confirm that the police department was open, and then sped to the station to try to lose Falls. When she returned to the station, she parked in the same parking space and quickly walked to the front door, only to see Falls park next to her vehicle and wave at her again.

         The police chief's assistant, who earlier had observed the two vehicles pull into the parking lot and then quickly leave, saw A.G. walk into the station entrance looking "very frightened." She immediately buzzed A.G. into the building without first asking her to state her business, although this went against protocol. A sergeant went to talk with and subsequently arrest Falls for stalking. During a search of Falls's vehicle, which was impounded after his arrest, the sergeant found a baggie of marijuana.

         Falls was charged with one count of Level 6 felony stalking and one count of Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana. A jury found him guilty as charged, and Falls was sentenced to 30 months for the stalking conviction and six ...


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