from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Lisa F. Borges,
Judge Trial Court Cause No. 49G04-1710-F3-41224
Attorney for Appellant Michael R. Fisher Marion County Public
Defender Agency Indianapolis, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Courtney Staton Deputy Attorney General
Jonathan Belcher appeals his convictions of and aggregate
sentence for two counts of Level 3 felony aggravated battery,
count each of Class B misdemeanor battery and Class A
misdemeanor resisting law enforcement, and the finding
that he is an habitual offender. He raises two issues on
appeal, which we expand and restate as the following three
(1) whether there is sufficient evidence to support the trial
court's finding that Belcher understood and appreciated
the wrongfulness of his conduct;
(2) whether the trial court abused its discretion in its
consideration of Belcher's mental health at sentencing;
(3) whether a 53-year-and-180-day sentence is inappropriate
in light of the nature of the offenses and Belcher's
and Procedural History
On October 19, 2017, David Smith, a regional sales manager
for a chemical coating company, flew from North Carolina to
Indianapolis to assist in interviewing applicants for a
position in the company's Indianapolis office. Amjad
Farah, Smith's friend and colleague, traveled from the
company's Michigan office to Indianapolis to also assist
with the interviews. After Smith and Farah finished
conducting the interviews, they went to a downtown
Indianapolis steakhouse for dinner. They finished dinner
around 6:30 pm and walked to Monument Circle.
Around this same time, Jennifer Crouch, her husband, and her
children were visiting Monument Circle. They were on vacation
in Indianapolis to see family and visit local attractions.
Crouch's husband and children walked up the steps of the
Indiana State Soldiers and Sailors Monument, and Crouch
stayed toward the base of the memorial to take a picture of
her family. Belcher approached Crouch and asked her what she
was doing. She said that she was at the monument with her
children, and Belcher said, "you don't have any
kids." (Tr. Vol. II at 109.) Belcher was aggressive and
his tone of voice was mean. Belcher walked away for a brief
period and then returned. Belcher pushed Crouch and she fell
flat on the ground. Belcher then backed up to get a running
start and kicked the front of Crouch's head "like a
football kickoff for a field goal kicker." (Id.
at 92.) A bystander ran to Crouch, and Belcher walked around
the monument towards Smith and Farah.
Smith and Farah were admiring the Soldiers and Sailors
Monument when they heard Belcher angrily yell out
"mother f[*****]." (Id. at 29.) As Smith
turned his head toward the noise, Belcher punched him in the
side of the head. Smith went stiff and fell to the ground.
Belcher started swinging at Farah, and one of Belcher's
punches grazed Farah. When other bystanders started to yell,
Belcher walked away.
Officers responded to the scene, encountered Belcher, and
commanded him to get on the ground. Belcher shouted at the
officers, "this is my ship" or "get off my
ship." (Id. at 146.) When officers continued to
command Belcher to get on the ground, he responded
"F[***] you. You get on the ground." (Id.
at 132.) Belcher turned and briskly walked away from the
officers. Belcher ignored further repeated directions to stop
and warnings that officers were going to deploy their tasers.
Eventually, an officer used a taser on Belcher. Belcher fell
to the ground and resisted officers trying to cuff him, but
officers were able to secure him and take him into custody.
Belcher made a comment to a State Police Trooper on the scene
that the Indiana State Police did not have jurisdiction over
Monument Circle. Rather, Belcher asserted the Indianapolis
Metropolitan Police Department ("IMPD") had
Ambulances rushed Smith and Crouch to local hospitals. Smith
underwent brain surgery in Indianapolis, and doctors placed
him in a medically induced coma. He stayed in an Indianapolis
hospital for three weeks before being transferred to a brain
and spinal rehabilitation facility in Atlanta, Georgia. He
was incapacitated and required around-the-clock care. He was
fed through a feeding tube and received drugs intravenously.
After seven months at the Atlanta facility, his family
decided to cease the life-sustaining measures and Smith died
on May 28, 2018.
Crouch was released from the hospital approximately seven
hours after the incident. Crouch briefly lost consciousness
after Belcher kicked her. At the hospital, she had vertigo
and struggled to sit in a chair. She also sustained an eye
injury. Crouch's husband had to take six weeks off work
to care for her. She had balance issues that required her to
use a wheelchair for a period and then a walker, and she
needed to attend physical therapy. Crouch also saw a
neurologist, who diagnosed her with a spinal fluid leak.
Crouch thought she would need surgery to correct that leak,
but it resolved itself without surgery.
The court referred Belcher to psychologist Dr. Don Olive to
perform a competence and sanity evaluation, and he met with
Belcher at the Marion County Jail on November 17, 2017. Dr.
Olive reviewed records from the Marion County Jail prior to
visiting with Belcher. Those records indicated Belcher's
previous diagnoses included Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder,
and Depression. Belcher had received both inpatient and
outpatient mental health treatment in the past and was
released from Community Hospital North on October 11, 2017.
During Belcher's interview with Dr. Olive, Belcher
mentioned that he had been found not responsible by reason of
insanity in a previous case. He also talked about being stuck
in a computer game and being hunted by zombies. Dr. Olive
concluded with reasonable psychological certainty that
Belcher was both not competent to stand trial and not
criminally responsible at the time of the alleged offenses.
Dr. George Parker, a medical doctor and professor of clinical
psychology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, also
performed a competency evaluation. He met with Belcher at the
Marion County Jail on November 30, 2017. Belcher began the
interview by asking Dr. Parker, "[A]re you from a water
border or a land border?" (App. Vol. II at 83.) During
the interview, Belcher repeatedly punched a code into an
imaginary keypad on the interview room partition. Dr. Parker
found this behavior odd because, based on his experience in
conducting many competency and sanity evaluations, defendants
typically do not advertise their symptoms at the beginning of
an interview. Belcher claimed to be living in a video game
and described the court proceedings as part of the game. He
mentioned that he had been found not responsible by reason of
insanity in a previous case. He also claimed to see holograms
of great white sharks. Dr. Parker learned Belcher lived in a
general population unit at the jail and did not cause any
problems in the unit. Dr. Parker also reviewed Belcher's
medical records, including a competence and sanity report he
himself had prepared in 2015 concerning a criminal case
involving Belcher. In 2015, Belcher told Dr. Parker that he
became paranoid when he smoked marijuana without also
drinking alcohol. Dr. Parker concluded with reasonable
medical certainty that Belcher "may meet criteria for
diagnoses of malingering, schizophrenia and/or bipolar
disorder" and opined that Belcher was not competent to
stand trial. (Id. at 89.) Dr. Parker thought
there was a possibility ...