ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE:
JEFF SCHLESINGER JEFFREY A. MODISETT
Appellate Public Defender Attorney General of Indiana
Crown Point, Indiana
JAMES A. GARRARD
Deputy Attorney General
SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
CARLOS WALLACE, )
) Supreme Court Cause Number
v. ) 45S00-9808-CR-426
STATE OF INDIANA, )
APPEAL FROM THE LAKE SUPERIOR COURT
The Honorable Richard Maroc, Judge
Cause No. 45G01-9708-CF-171
ON DIRECT APPEAL
March 23, 2000
A jury convicted Carlos Wallace of murder and attempted murder. The trial
court sentenced him to concurrent presumptive terms of fifty-five years and thirty years
respectively. In this direct appeal, Wallace raises three issues for our review
which we rephrase as: (1) did the trial court err by admitting
post-mortem photographs of the murder victim, (2) was the evidence sufficient to negate
Wallaces claim of self-defense, and (3) did the trial court properly sentence Wallace.
The facts most favorable to the verdict show that on December 19, 1996,
Wallace paged his long-time acquaintance Joe Jones and asked for a ride to
the bus station. Wallace asserted that he was traveling to Minnesota to
visit his mother. Jones agreed and drove to Wallaces residence accompanied by
another person, Larry Magee. Wallace entered the car and sat in the
back seat. Jones drove and Magee rode in the front passenger seat.
Wallace informed Jones that before going to the bus station he wanted
to make a stop in order to obtain needed cash. He then
directed Jones to park the car near a house a few streets away
from Wallaces residence. Rather than park where instructed, Jones parked under a streetlight.
After demanding that Jones move the car away from the light, Wallace
produced a .22 caliber handgun and began firing. Magee was struck in
the eye and shoulder and died as a result of the wound to
his head. Jones survived shots to his shoulder, hand, and face.
Wallace was ultimately arrested and charged with the murder of Magee and the
attempted murder of Jones.
At trial, Wallace testified on his own behalf and admitted to the shooting,
but claimed he acted in self-defense. According to Wallace, he sold drugs
for Jones and owed him money. Wallace testified that after he entered
the car, Jones threatened to harm him if he did not pay the
money. Wallace claimed that Magee then reached for him, at which point
Wallace produced a handgun and began firing wildly. The jury convicted Wallace
as charged. This appeal followed.
Wallace first contends the trial court erred when it admitted into evidence two
post-mortem photographs taken of the victim. One photograph shows the victims face
with surgical tubes extending from the victims nose and mouth. The other
photograph is similar to the first, but the tubes are removed. Both
photographs reveal a gunshot wound to the victims eye and what appear to
be powder burns to the victims face. Describing the photographs as gruesome,
Wallace argues their relevancy was outweighed by their prejudicial impact upon the jury.
We review the trial courts admission of photographic evidence for an abuse of
discretion. Byers v. State, 709 N.E.2d 1024, 1028 (Ind. 1998). Photographs
that depict a victims injuries are generally relevant and thus admissible. Harrison
v. State, 699 N.E.2d 645, 648 (Ind. 1998). The relevancy requirement also
can be met if the photographs demonstrate or illustrate a witnesss testimony.
Id. However, relevant evidence may be excluded if its probative value is
substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. . . . Ind.
Evidence Rule 403.
The two photographs here were admitted into evidence after the pathologist had explained
the nature of the victims injury, namely a gunshot wound to the left
eyelid. The State then drew the pathologists attention to puck marking around
the wound, which the pathologist characterized as stippling. R. at 136.
According to the pathologist, a gun fired at close range caused the stippling.
Because the photographs illustrated the witnesss testimony, the relevancy requirement for their
admission was properly met.
As for alleged prejudicial impact, we do not agree the photographs are particularly
gruesome. Indeed, because the photographs were taken before the pathologist actually began
his internal examination, they show no incisions and do not portray the gruesome
spectacle this court has previously condemned. See, e.g., Kiefer v. State, 239
Ind. 103, 111, 153 N.E.2d 899, 902 (1958) (deeming photographs so gruesome and
shocking as to be inadmissible). It is true that photographs of a
deceased victim during and after an autopsy is performed may be held inadmissible
on grounds that they serve no purpose other than to arouse the emotions
of the jury. Loy v. State, 436 N.E.2d 1125, 1128 (Ind. 1982).
However, this Court has found photographs showing the deceased victim before the
pathologist has made incisions to be admissible even when they are gruesome or
gory. Id. That is so because such photographs allow the jury
to see the wounds or trauma inflicted upon the victim, and they are
often accompanied by the testimony of the pathologist about the cause of death.
Id. Here, the pathologist testified about the cause of death and
the stippling surrounding the fatal wound. The photographs allowed the jury to
see the wound and to place the pathologists testimony in context. The
probative value of these photographs outweighs any prejudicial impact. The trial court
did not err by allowing the photographs into evidence.
Wallace next contends the State failed to negate his claim of self-defense.
Pointing to his own testimony in support, Wallace alleges he fired his weapon
out of fear of death or great bodily harm. A valid claim
of self-defense is legal justification for an otherwise criminal act. Birdsong v.
State, 685 N.E.2d 42, 45 (Ind. 1997). When a defendant raises the
claim of self-defense, he is required to show three facts: 1) he was
in a place where he had a right to be; 2) he acted
without fault; and 3) he had a reasonable fear of death or great
bodily harm. McEwen v. State, 695 N.E.2d 79, 90 (Ind. 1998).
The issue on appellate review is typically whether the State presented sufficient evidence
to support a finding that at least one of the elements of the
defendants self-defense claim was negated. The standard of review for a challenge
to the sufficiency of evidence to rebut a claim of self-defense is the
same as the standard for any sufficiency of the evidence claim. Sanders
v. State, 704 N.E.2d 119, 123 (Ind. 1999). We neither reweigh the
evidence nor judge the credibility of witnesses. Id. If there is
sufficient evidence of probative value to support the conclusion of the trier of
fact, then the verdict will not be disturbed. Id.
Jones was the States key witness and provided most of the evidence against
Wallace. In turn, the only evidence supporting a self-defense claim was Wallaces own
testimony. The trial court gave the jury a self-defense instruction, and it
convicted Wallace nonetheless. Obviously, the jury rejected Wallaces testimony, which it had the
right to do. Wallace essentially invites this court to reweigh the evidence.
We decline. The State presented sufficient evidence to negate Wallaces claim
For his final contention, Wallace complains the trial court did not consider a
significant mitigating factor, namely, that he acted out of fear of great bodily
harm. A claim that the trial court failed to find a mitigating
circumstance requires the defendant to establish that the mitigating evidence is both significant
and clearly supported by the record. Carter v. State, 711 N.E.2d 835,
838 (Ind. 1999). Here, the trial court listed the following mitigating factors:
Wallaces youthful age; no prior history of criminal convictions; Wallace was the
product of a dysfunctional family; and Wallace expressed remorse for his actions.
The jurys rejection of Wallaces self-defense claim demonstrates that his assertion that he
acted out of fear is not clearly supported by the record. See,
e.g., Shields v. State, 699 N.E.2d 636, 640 (Ind. 1998) ([T]he mitigation claim
that the victim induced the crime was not clearly supported by the record,
as the jury rejected the defendant's claims of self-defense and sudden heat, instead
finding that he knowingly killed the victim.). We conclude the trial considered
all significant mitigating factors and did not err in sentencing Wallace.
SHEPARD, C.J., and DICKSON, SULLIVAN and BOEHM, JJ., concur.
We observe that although neither photograph was particularly gruesome, the photograph
showing surgical tubes extending from the victims nose and mouth was cumulative.
However, relevant evidence need not be excluded simply because it is
McCord v. State, 622 N.E.2d 504, 512 (Ind. 1993). Further,
Wallace does raise this point as an issue on appeal.