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Caesar v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

January 16, 2020

Colin Caesar, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

          Appeal from the Marion Superior Court Trial Court Cause No. 49G07-1905-CM-19900 The Honorable Clayton A. Graham, Judge

          Attorney for Appellant Joel M. Schumm Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Lauren A. Jacobsen Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Najam, Judge.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] Colin Caesar appeals his conviction for theft, as a Class A misdemeanor, following a bench trial. Caesar raises one issue for our review, namely, whether the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted as evidence an officer's testimony about the content of security footage.

         [¶2] We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] On May 18, 2019, Taylor Golden was working as a cashier at a CVS store in Indianapolis. At some point that morning, Caesar walked into the store, "went right past the front of" Golden, and went to the refrigerators, where Golden "saw him grab two Red Bulls[.]" Tr. Vol. II at 9. Caesar walked up a different aisle of the store and started "looking to see if anybody was watching him." Id. at 10. Caesar then filled a bright blue bag with items from the store and walked toward the doors without stopping at a cash register to pay. When Caesar got to the doors, Golden asked him to stop and return the items, but Caesar told Golden that he "don't gotta give [her] back s**t." Id. at 10. Caesar then "took off," and Golden called the police. Id. at 12.

         [¶4] Sergeant Tamar Harper with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department received a dispatch report that a black male who was wearing a black shirt and sunglasses on his head and who was carrying a "bright blue Happy Birthday bag" had just stolen items from a CVS. Id. at 23. Sergeant Harper and another officer responded to the call and located Caesar, who had a bright blue bag and who "match[ed] the description" of the suspect, in a parking lot across the street from the CVS. Id. At that point, the other officer detained Caesar, and Sergeant Harper went to CVS to speak with Golden. Because Sergeant Harper had already seen Caesar in the parking lot with the bright blue bag, she reviewed the security footage from CVS "to see if it was the same person." Id. at 24. On the video, Sergeant Harper was able to see a "black male wearing sunglasses that had on a black shirt with some white . . . symbols on there walking out with the bag." Id.

         [¶5] At that point, Sergeant Harper took Golden to Caesar's location in order to conduct a show-up identification, and Golden "positively" identified Caesar. Id. at 25. Because Caesar had been "not even three feet" away from Golden in the CVS, Golden was "certain" that Caesar was the same man who had stolen the items. Id. at 14. Sergeant Harper then seized the blue bag that Caesar had in his possession, and she found that it was "full of merchandise" that "had 'CVS' on them." Id. at 25, 26.

         [¶6] The State charged Caesar with one count of theft, as a Class A misdemeanor.[1]The trial court held a bench trial on July 22. During the trial, the State presented as evidence the testimony of Golden and Sergeant Harper. During Sergeant Harper's testimony, the State asked her to describe what she had seen on the CVS security footage. At that point, Caesar objected on the ground that the testimony "violates the best evidence rule[.]" Id. at 24. When Caesar attempted to explain his objection further, the trial court twice interjected and overruled his objection. Sergeant Harper then testified that, when she reviewed the security footage, she saw a man who "matched the description" of "the male that was being . . . detained at the time" leave the store "past all points of payment and that he had a bag." Id. at 25. At the conclusion of the bench trial, the court found Caesar guilty of theft, as a Class A misdemeanor, and sentenced him to one year suspended to nonreporting probation. This appeal ensued.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶7] Caesar contends that the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted certain evidence. ...


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