Attorneys for Appellee
Jeffrey A. Modisett
Attorney General of Indiana
Priscilla J. Fossum
Deputy Attorney General
Appellant (Defendant below),
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee (Plaintiff below ).
) Supreme Court No.
April 24, 2001
The State charged Defendant with Murder
, Felony Murder
, and Robbery, a Class A
A jury found Defendant guilty of all three counts. The
trial court merged the two counts of murder and sentenced Defendant to concurrent
sentences of 55 years for the murder and 40 years for the robbery.
In reviewing a sufficiency of the evidence claim, the Court neither reweighs the
evidence nor assesses the credibility of the witnesses. See Garland v.
State, 719 N.E.2d 1236, 1238 (Ind. 1999). We look to the
evidence most favorable to the verdict and reasonable inferences drawn therefrom. Sanders
v. State, 704 N.E.2d 119, 123 (Ind. 1999). We will affirm the
conviction if there is probative evidence from which a reasonable jury could have
found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. See Brown v. State,
720 N.E.2d 1157, 1158 (Ind. 1999).
Simpson and Coleman both testified that Defendant had two guns and Blackmon had
one gun. Simpson and Coleman also testified that Defendant, Blackmon, and Coleman
were going to go to Solomon Park to shoot guns. Coleman testified
that at the park, Defendant asked Blackmon if he could see his gun,
whereupon Blackmon gave his gun to Defendant and Defendant gave it to Coleman
to hold. Coleman further testified that Defendant pulled out his own gun
and pointed it at Blackmon and told Blackmon to turn around. According
to Coleman, Defendant shot Blackmon in the back of the head. Coleman
testified that, at Defendants direction, he helped Defendant put Blackmons body in a
It is well established that the testimony of a single eye witness is
sufficient to sustain a conviction. Emerson v. State, 724 N.E.2d 605, 609-10
(Ind. 2000), rehearing denied; Anderson v. State, 469 N.E.2d 1166, 1169 (Ind. 1984),
cert denied, 469 U.S. 1226 (1985). There was an eye witnessColemantestifying to
the shooting, and the location and physical evidence were consistent with his story;
the State presented evidence that Blackmon was killed by a gunshot to the
back of the head. Blackmons body was found in the stream near
the location Coleman testified that Brasher shot Blackmon. There was sufficient evidence
from which a reasonable jury could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable
Defendant argues that Colemans testimony should be disregarded. Defendant cites Tillman v.
State, 642 N.E.2d 221, 223 (Ind. 1994), for the proposition that the judge
may impinge on the jurys responsibility to judge the credibility of the witness
where a sole witness presents inherently contradictory testimony which is equivocal or the
result of coercion and there is a complete lack of circumstantial evidence of
the appellants guilt. Appellants Br. at 10. (citing Tillman 642 N.E.2d
Though most of the States case rests on the testimony of Coleman, there is no evidence that his testimony is contradictory or equivocal. None of Colemans facts conflict, and his testimony is consistent with the story he told to other witnesses and the police. See footnote As stated above, the location of the body and the nature of the wound in the victim are consistent with Colemans testimony.
Reduced to its essentials, Defendants argument is that Colemans testimony was not credible
because he had a motive to lie. However, it is within the
jurys province to judge the credibility of the witnesses.
See Garland, 719
N.E.2d at 1238. Defendant had the opportunity to make this argument to
the jury, and did in fact question Colemans credibility during the trial.
Based on the testimony of Coleman, other witnesses, and the weight of the
physical evidence, the jury found Defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
SHEPARD, C.J., and DICKSON, BOEHM, and RUCKER, JJ., concur.