Attorneys for Appellee
Attorney General of Indiana
Christopher L. Lafuse
Deputy Attorney General
Appellant (Defendant below),
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee (Plaintiff below ).
) Supreme Court No.
September 11, 2002
Defendant Michael Bruno was convicted of criminal recklessness, murder, and conspiracy to commit murder for his actions as part of a group that opened fire on an occupied residence. Contrary to his claim, we find sufficient evidence of record to support the convictions challenged. We agree with Defendant that certain errors were made in connection with his sentence, a point the State concedes.
In reviewing a sufficiency of the evidence claim, this Court neither reweighs the
idence nor assesses the credibility of the witnesses. Ledo v. State,
741 N.E.2d 1235, 1237 (Ind. 2001); Garland v. State, 719 N.E.2d 1236, 1238
(Ind. 1999), rehg denied. We look to the evidence most favorable
to the verdict and the 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. Brown v. State, 720 N.E.2d 1157,
1158 (Ind. 1999).
Defendant was charged in the alternative with having committed murder or being an
accomplice in the commission of murder. Murder is defined as knowingly or
intentionally kill[ing] another human being. Ind. Code § 35-42-1-1(1). A person
who recklessly, kno
wingly, or intentionally . . . inflicts serious bodily injury on
another person . . . commits criminal recklessness. Ind. Code § 35-42-2-2(c).
Indiana Code § 35-41-2-4 provides that a person who knowingly or intentionally
aids, induces, or causes another person to commit an offense commits that offense
. . . . See Ledo, 741 N.E.2d at 1238 (one who intentionally
aids, induces, or causes another person to commit murder is also guilty of
murder). It is not necessary that a defendant participate in every element
of a crime to be convicted of that crime under a theory of
accomplice liability. See Vitek v. State, 750 N.E.2d 346, 352 (Ind. 2001);
Fox v. State, 497 N.E.2d 221, 227 (Ind. 1986).
In determining whether there was sufficient evidence for purposes of accomplice liability, we consider such factors as: (1) presence at the scene of the crime; (2) companionship with another at the scene of the crime; (3) failure to oppose commission of crime; and (4) course of conduct before, during, and after occurrence of crime. See Kelly v. State, 719 N.E.2d 391, 396 (Ind. 1999); Wright, 690 N.E.2d at 1106.
We find that there was sufficient evidence that Defendant committed murder or aided
or induced another in his group to commit murder. The State presented
evidence that Defendant and his friends obtained weapons and assembled near the party.
Witnesses stated that defendant and three others went to the back of
the house and fired their weapons into the house, knowing that it was
occupied. In his brief, Defendant argues that the state presented absolutely no
evidence of probative value tending to show that the Defendant or the Defendants
accomplices actually shot any of the victims. This is readily contradicted by
Defendants own testimony at trial that he shot into the house.
Defendant also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence relating to his conviction for
criminal recklessness with respect to one victim. We find that the evidence
was sufficient. Defendant admitted to firing a gun into the residence.
There was also more than enough evidence of the victims injuries: a witness
heard the victim state Im shot, and observed blood on the victims leg,
and medical records from Ball Memorial Hospital indicate that on the night in
question, the victim was admitted with a gunshot wound to the right leg.
The record reflects that the trial court submitted four verdict forms to the
jury for count five. One form was for murder and one form
was for a not guilty verdict. There was also a form for
voluntary manslaughter and another for reckless homicide. Defendant argues that the verdict
forms were confusing because the heading on the forms for voluntary manslaughter and
reckless homicide each read: Count 5 Murder.
Defendant did not object to the verdict forms at trial. The failure
to object at trial results in waiver of the issue on appeal.
See Mitchell v. State, 726 N.E.2d 1228, 1235 (Ind. 2000), rehg. denied.
We will review an issue that was waived at trial if we find
fundamental error. The defendant, however, must prove that the error was so
prejudicial as to make a fair trial impossible. See Conner v. State,
711 N.E.2d 1238, 1246 (Ind. 1999), cert. denied, 503 U.S. 946 (2000).
Here, we find no fundamental error. The trial court instructed the jury
on voluntary manslaughter and reckless homicide. The jury was given verdict forms
for both offenses along with the verdict form for murder. The jury
returned a signed verdict form for murder. There is no question that
the jury found that Defendant was guilty of murder.
A trial court has the discretion to impose sentences consecutively if aggravating circumstances
warrant. See Ind. Code § 35-38-1-7.1. This discretion is limited by
Ind. Code § 35-50-1-2(c), which states:
Except for crimes of violence, the total of the consecutive terms of imprisonment, exclusive of terms of imprisonment . . . shall not exceed the presumptive sentence for a felony which is one class felony higher than the most serious of the felonies for which the person has been convicted.
The statute specifically defines certain crimes as crimes of violence. Ind. Code § 35-50-1-2(a). Criminal recklessness is not designated as a crime of violence and is therefore subject to the limitation of § 35-50-1-2(a). McCarthy v. State, 751 N.E.2d 753, 756 (Ind. Ct. App. 2001) (quoting Ellis v. State, 736 N.E.2d 731, 737 (Ind. 2000)); Maxwell v. State, 731 N.E.2d 459, 464 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000).
Defendants convictions for criminal recklessness were class C felonies. The presumptive sentence
for a class B felonya felony one class higheris ten years. Therefore,
consecutive sentences for criminal recklessness, a class B felony, may not exceed ten
years. The State concedes this point, and correctly points out that the
trial court may order Defendants sentences for criminal recklessness to be served consecutively
with his sentence for Murder. McCarthy, 751 N.E.2d at 756.
The State also concedes that the trial court should have merged Defendants murder conviction and his conviction for conspiracy to commit murder as the two convictions rest on a single overt act. We accept the States concession.