ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE
Brent Westerfeld Jeffrey Modisett
Indianapolis, Indiana Attorney General of Indiana
Arthur Thaddeus Perry
Deputy Attorney General
SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
HOWARD ALLEN, ) ) Appellant (Defendant Below ), ) ) v. ) CAUSE NO. 49S00-9207-DP-566 ) STATE OF INDIANA, ) ) Appellee (Plaintiff Below ). )
SHEPARD, Chief Justice.
Howard Allen appeals his conviction and sentence of death for the robbery, Ind. Code § 35-42-5-1, murder, Ind. Code § 35-42-1- 1(1) and felony murder, Ind. Code § 35-42-1-1(2), of Ernestine
Griffin, a woman of seventy-four. We affirm Allen's conviction and sentence on each count.
Allen alleges seventeen errors. These may be characterized as
raising eleven legal issues:
(1) That his privilege against self-incrimination was violated by
(a) inadequate Miranda warnings;
(b) improper custodial interrogation; and
(c) failure to respect Allen's invocation of his constitutional rights;
(2) That Allen was denied due process because the jury
was allowed to hear allegedly perjured testimony;
(3) That hearsay statements uttered by the victim were
improperly admitted at trial;
(4) That Allen was denied due process when the jury was
allowed to view autopsy pictures;
(5) That Allen was denied due process when the trial
court refused to give instructions
(a) on theft as a lesser included offense; and
(b) adequately guiding the jury at sentencing;
(6) That the trial court's failure to order sua sponte
a competency examination denied Allen due process;
(7) That he was denied effective assistance of counsel
in both the guilt and penalty phases of his trial,
at his sentencing hearing, and in the appellate process;
(8) That Allen's right of confrontation was violated by
the trial judge's communication with the jury out of
his presence during the sentencing phase;
(9) That he was denied a speedy appeal;
(10) That Allen is mentally retarded and cannot be
sentenced to death therefor; and
(11) That Allen's death sentence is unconstitutional
because it is based on
(a) improper victim-impact evidence; and
(b) non-statutory aggravators.
We approach these claims as follows. Part I of this opinion
lays out the facts in two sections. Section (A) recounts the
evidence and investigation, and Section (B) details procedural
history. Part II addresses Allen's allegations of guilt-phase
error, which are the first six issues listed. Allen's sweeping
claim of ineffective assistance of counsel stands alone in Part III
because it concerns all stages of these proceedings. Part IV then
addresses sentencing and post-trial procedural issues.
Ernestine Griffin lived alone on the northside of
Indianapolis. During a robbery on July 14, 1987, she was killed in
her home through a combination of blunt trauma to her head and a
knife wound to her chest. Property taken during the robbery
consisted of her wallet and its contents, a camera and case, and a
battery charger for the camera.
The chain of events leading to Griffin's murder began the preceding day. That morning, Griffin entertained the questions of a man who stated he was interested in purchasing a car. The car that interested him belonged to Dr. Victor Seaman, whose dental
office was located next door. Griffin and Dr. Seaman had been neighbors for years and were close friends.
Griffin could not answer the man's questions about the car,
but she advised him that she would forward his name and telephone
number to her neighbor. The man wrote his name and home telephone
number on a check stub and left it with Griffin. That note
contained the words, "Howard Allen/ 545-4109." Some time later
that day, Griffin telephoned Dr. Seaman at his home and recorded
the potential buyer's name and number on Dr. Seaman's answering
machine. When listening to Griffin's message, Dr. Seaman wrote a
note to himself containing the information, "545-4109/ after 6/
That evening, Dr. Seaman tried to call Allen, but was unable
to reach him. Instead, Dr. Seaman spoke with a woman who
identified herself as Allen's sister, April Allen. He gave her a
message that included his name and home phone number. April Allen
wrote the message on a pack of rolling papers, but ultimately
failed to deliver the message to Howard. Police later obtained the
message during a warranted search of the Allen residence.
At about 10:25 a.m. the next morning, July 14, the would-be car buyer returned to Ms. Griffin's home. Dr. Seaman was not in his office, so Griffin telephoned him at home. She told him that "the same black man" returned. She put the man on the line, and
the two men talked briefly. (R. at 2112-14.) Dr. Seaman was too
busy to carry on a lengthy dialogue because he was preparing to
leave for a personal appointment. He asked the would-be buyer if
he worked, and the man told him that he worked at Bluko Car Wash.
A few minutes after that conversation ended, Griffin called Dr.
Seaman again because the man did not leave her home even though she
could not answer his questions. She put the man on the line with
Dr. Seaman again, who admits he was quite abrupt. Dr. Seaman
sharply told the man to quit bothering Griffin and to leave her
Troubled by that conversation, Dr. Seaman called Griffin about
ten minutes later to see whether the man was still in her house.
The telephone line was busy. He called again, but the line
remained busy. Dr. Seaman then went to his appointment and
returned home about two hours later. He tried to telephone
Griffin, but every attempt resulted in a busy signal.
Dr. Seaman went to Griffin's home at about 12:45 p.m. He
found her front door ajar. He looked inside and saw Griffin's
bloody body on the living room floor. A large knife protruded from
her chest and a bloody, broken toaster lay nearby. Later
examination would reveal that she still wore her wedding ring, but
its stone was turned inward toward her palm.
Dr. Seaman contacted the police. He told them that earlier in
the morning he had spoken on the telephone with "a black man" who
was in Griffin's home inquiring about his car. He also told the
officers that the man said he worked at the Bluko Car Wash, located
half a mile north on Keystone Avenue. He said Griffin had
previously given him the name, "Howard Allen," and the man's home
telephone number. Dr. Seaman also told the officers that he was
abrupt with the man in their two brief conversations and that
Griffin's telephone line had been busy every time he called since
Police secured the crime scene at about 2:45 p.m., and two
detectives went to the Bluko Car Wash, where they found Howard
Allen. They asked him to go to the police station for questioning
about an incident near the car wash, but did not inform him of the
specific nature of the crime being investigated. Allen agreed and
went with the officers to police headquarters. Allen was
questioned concerning his whereabouts that morning, how he had
travelled to work, and if he had shopped for a car. Allen told the
police that he watched cartoons at home, hitch-hiked to work, and
did not shop for a car because he was not licensed to drive.
The police questioned Allen throughout the afternoon and early evening at the police station. Although he was there for nearly six hours before his formal arrest, police officers testified that he was free to leave. Allen does not challenge this fact.
Around 8:45 p.m, Detective Crooke learned that investigators at Griffin's home found on a kitchen counter a slip of paper recording Allen's name and number. They arrested Allen formally at this time, and gave him Miranda warnings orally and in writing. At 8:50 p.m., Allen signed a waiver of rights form, and Detective Crooke then interrogated him. During this interrogation, Allen suggested that he be given a lie detector test. Detective Crooke summoned a polygraph specialist, and Allen ate dinner while they waited.
Detective Logsdon, the polygraph specialist, began examining
Allen at about 11 p.m. Logsdon gave Allen oral Miranda warnings,
the adequacy of which is now in dispute. Logsdon also gave Allen
a second copy of the written Miranda warnings and waiver form. He
instructed Allen to read the form; Allen then signed it. The
interview lasted four hours. Afterwards, Allen was asked to give
a formal statement, but declined because he was tired.
Ten hours later, after Allen had been allowed to sleep,
Detective Wright gave him Miranda warnings and asked him if he
would answer questions and give a statement. Allen expressed a
desire to speak with his mother, which Wright accommodated. After
speaking with his mother, Allen talked to Wright. Allen admitted
to shopping for a car and to striking Griffin in the face, but not
to killing her.
Meanwhile, forensic investigators continued their work; they failed to find any fingerprints at Griffin's home, but they did find the note with Allen's name and number on the kitchen counter. That countertop had been forcibly pulled away from the wall and a drawer left open. A broken and bloody toaster lay in the living room near Griffin's body, the living room telephone was off the
hook. The bedcovers were turned back, and the slats in a closet door were broken. An empty camera box was on the floor.
The police later questioned Allen's co-workers and boss at the
car wash. In doing so, they discovered Griffin's camera, which
Allen had given to a co-worker to hold in his locker on the day
Griffin was murdered. Shortly thereafter, a telephone lineman
found Griffin's wallet on a nearby roof. It held no money.
The clothes Allen wore at the time of his arrest were spotted
with blood. Allen's blood type is type "O," but the victim's was
type "A." Laboratory analysis of the blood stains on Allen's
clothes indicated a match with Griffin's blood type.
Although this is a direct appeal, getting to this stage has
been anything but direct.
At sentencing, Allen indicated to the trial court that he was
dissatisfied with his attorney's performance. He told the judge
about several persons he would have called as witnesses and
described the testimony he would have elicited. Allen announced
his desire to make an ineffective assistance of counsel claim.
This led his lead trial counsel, Alex Voils, to move to withdraw
his representation. The trial court denied this motion and ordered
Voils to prepare a motion to correct errors within sixty days.
Seeking to avoid the conflict Voils faced in drafting a motion
to correct errors that alleged his own ineffectiveness, the court
instructed him to prepare the motion without an ineffective
assistance claim. The court assured Voils that it would permit him
to withdraw after filing the motion. The court further assured
both Allen and Voils that upon Voils' withdrawal it would appoint
new counsel and would permit new counsel to file a belated motion
to correct errors for the principal purpose of asserting Allen's
ineffective assistance claim. The court also stated that new
counsel would not be restricted to the ineffectiveness issue. The
court indicated that it would then rule on both motions, in essence
"trying to get direct appeal, PC one, and PC two all done at one
time, if possible . . . ." (R. at 3194.)
Forty-nine days later, on October 18, 1988, and well within the sixty days allowed by rule, Allen filed a pro se motion to correct errors. This motion contained, inter alia, claims that his
trial counsel was ineffective and that a conflict of interest
existed between him, Voils, and Judge Barney. Allen also alleged
that Voils conducted himself unprofessionally due to racial bias
against Allen. In a January 1989 hearing on the pro se motion,
Voils was asked in open court about the status of the motion to
correct errors the court had ordered him to prepare. He said the
motion was "substantially complete" but that he refrained from
filing it because of "the nature of the allegations contained in
Defendant Allen's pro se Motion to Correct Errors...." (R. at
3204.) On this representation, the trial court allowed Voils to
withdraw. The court then continued the case until it would appoint
On March 27, 1989, Allen filed another pro se motion, this one
captioned as a "Belated Supplemental Motion to Correct Errors." A
hearing was not held, and the motion was denied nine months later
in January, 1990. From this point, the proceedings languished for
more than two years. The reasons for this delay are not recorded.
On March 1, 1992, the trial court appointed David Sexson and Stephen Sherron to represent Allen. Sexson was Voils' co-counsel at trial. Sherron filed a praecipe and initiated the appeal on March 18. Despite the filing of the praecipe, the court reporter, Judith Hatfield, did not prepare and transmit the record of proceedings to Allen's attorneys. This Court intervened, ordering
Sexson and Sherron to appear with reporter Hatfield for a status
conference at the Supreme Court on September 10, 1992.
After the status conference, this Court imposed a schedule for
record preparation and briefing. We ordered compliance under the
penalty of contempt, scheduling a contempt hearing for January 13, 1993.
Reporter Hatfield failed to comply with the schedule. After
a hearing, we found Hatfield guilty of contempt. She was fined
$500 and sentenced to seven days incarceration. In the Matter of
Hatfield, 607 N.E.2d 384 (Ind. 1993). The record finally was
transmitted to this Court on March 25, 1993.
Allen's attorneys received two extensions of time for
preparation of his brief. A third petition for an extension of
time was filed on September 3, 1993. We granted the extension, but
under the penalty of contempt for attorney Sexson if this deadline
was not observed. The brief was timely filed on October 25, 1993.
It raised five issues in twenty-one pages, an extraordinarily thin
product in capital defense practice. The State's brief was filed
on January 31, 1994, and oral argument was scheduled for March 1.
Then this case took another unusual turn.
On February 15, 1994, the Marion County Public Defender Board, by Chief Public Defender Fran Hardy, filed a petition asserting
that the brief submitted by Sexson and Sherron was woefully
inadequate. She requested the brief be withdrawn without prejudice
and the case remanded for purpose of removing Sexson and Sherron
and appointing new appellate counsel. Seven days later, we
granted the petition, striking Allen's brief and removing SexsonSee footnote
and Sherron. The Court canceled oral argument and ordered the
Board, Chief Public Defender Hardy, and the Associate Presiding
Judge of the Marion Superior Court, Criminal Division, to confer
and identify suitable replacement counsel. The Court also set a
five month deadline for Allen's brief so that replacement counsel
would know the schedule to which the case would be kept before
accepting Allen's representation.
The record of proceedings was released to Allen's present
attorney, Brent Westerfeld, two days later. After he reviewed it,
the trial court nominated him to represent Allen. He indicated his
willingness to accept the case on March 7. We approved his
appointment the next day.
Four months later, Westerfeld filed a petition for leave to file a belated motion to correct errors. The petition, filed on July 12, also requested the appointment of a new trial judge on remand. We denied the petition, but specifically permitted Allen to raise and argue in his appellate brief all issues which he would
have included in a belated motion to correct errors. Both sides
ultimately briefed the case, and we heard oral argument.
Allen claims that the State deprived him of his Fifth
Amendment privilege against self-incrimination by violating his
"Miranda rights" through trickery, deception, coercion, and false
promises during his custodial interrogation at the police station
between 11 p.m., July 14, and 3 a.m., July 15. Therefore, Allen
argues, certain inculpatory statements he made during this
interrogation should not have been admitted into evidence.See footnote
inculpatory nature of Allen's statements is that he was in
Griffin's home, that he talked to "the doctor" (Dr. Seaman) on the
telephone, and that he struck Griffin in the face.
Allen did not object at trial to police testimony regarding statements he made during custodial interrogation and thus failed to preserve the issues for appeal. Allen argues that the alleged errors were more than mere infractions of constitutional dictates;
he claims they amounted to fundamental error and violations of due
process. Because he bases a significant part of his ineffective
assistance of counsel claims on the failure of his trial attorneys
to object and because of our concern for due process, we address
these claims as though properly before this Court.See footnote
The Fifth Amendment provides that "No person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. . . ." U.S. Const. amend V. Cognizant of the matrix of values safeguarded by the Fifth Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), announced broad prophylactic measures to protect citizens interrogated while in custody. Miranda requires defendants to be adequately informed of their right to remain silent, that their statements could be used against them at trial, of their right to an attorney, and that the state will appoint an attorney for the defendant if he cannot afford one. Id. The purpose of requiring the Miranda warnings before custodial interrogation is to combat state-sanctioned coercion. A suspect's waiver of this valuable constitutional privilege, therefore, must be voluntary, meaning that it is freely given with knowledge and understanding of the underlying rights and
Although the result in Miranda is grounded in the
Fifth Amendment privilege against state-compelled self-
incrimination and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, it is well-
settled that the specific dictates promulgated in that opinion are
not constitutionally mandated. Miranda, 384 U.S. at 478-9;
Duckworth v. Eagan, 492 U.S. 195, 209 (1989) (O'Connor, J.,
After three decades of experience with Miranda, interrogating police officers commonly advise accused persons of their constitutional rights orally, and request suspects to sign pre- printed waiver of rights forms before initiating interrogation. The voluntariness of a person's waiver of rights is judged by the totality of the circumstances, Light v. State, 547 N.E.2d 1073 (Ind. 1989), and a signed waiver form is one item of evidence showing that the accused was aware of and understood his rights. Thus, when challenged, the State may need to show additional
evidence tending to prove that the accused's waiver and decision to
speak were voluntary.See footnote
Allen bases his claim on four arguments:
(A) that Miranda warnings were inadequate;
(B) that his waiver of rights was not voluntary;
(C) that interrogating officers failed to respect Allen's invocation of his right both to remain silent and to the presence of counsel during interrogation; and
(D) that his incriminating statements were a product of police coercion and deception.
Allen's fourth argument essentially duplicates his second, so we
address them as one.
Waiver of either the privilege against self-incrimination or
the right to counsel cannot be presumed when police interrogate a
person who is in custody without first advising him of his rights
per Miranda; all evidence derived from the accused's subsequent
statements must be excluded from the prosecution's case-in-chief.
Miranda, 384 U.S. at 479. Thus, failure to warn the suspect of his
rights renders all of his subsequent remarks while in custody
involuntary per se, but properly administered warnings permit a
trial court to find that all subsequent statements were voluntary.
Allen does not claim he was unwarned. He claims instead that
the warnings he received immediately before the polygraph interview
make his case "glaringly similar" to Dickerson v. State, 257 Ind.
562, 276 N.E.2d 845 (1972). Dickerson, however, dealt with a
defendant's involuntary waiver of rights, not the inadequacy of the
warnings he received. Id. at 849-50. The adequacy of Miranda
warnings is a threshold matter; the voluntariness of his waiver
follows. Allen's claim that Miranda advisements were inadequate
requires only that the State prove the warnings were given and that
they were sufficiently clear.
The record shows that Allen was first questioned by police officers at 2:45 p.m. and taken to the police station fifteen minutes later, where he remained until he was placed under arrest at 8:45 p.m. At that time, Detective Crooke told Allen that a note containing his name and telephone number See footnote 6 was found in Griffin's home and that Allen was now accused of her murder. Detective Crooke then read Allen the Miranda warnings, gave him a preprinted waiver form, asked Allen if he understood his rights, and asked him to sign the form if he was willing to waive his rights. Allen signed the waiver form, and interrogation commenced anew.
During this interrogation, Detective Crooke told Allen that he "didn't feel that he was being truthful." (R. at 2251.) At some point, Allen suggested he take a lie detector test. A polygraph specialist, Detective Logsdon, was called while Allen ate dinner. At about 11 p.m. the polygraph interrogation commenced. It was transmitted into an adjacent room for Detective Crooke to observe, and it was recorded on tape.
Logsdon loosely reviewed Miranda warnings with Allen. He embellished this explanation of Allen's rights by defaming half of practicing lawyers and suggesting that remaining silent might hurt him. Logsdon gave Allen a second Miranda waiver form, which he signed, but Allen's claim rests on Logsdon's remarks at this juncture.See footnote 7
Detective Logsdon's "explanation" was deplorable. If it had been the only warning to Allen, relief under Miranda would likely be appropriate.
We are not persuaded that earlier, proper warnings were
rendered inadequate by Logsdon's performance. Allen does not
contest that he was properly advised of his Miranda rights at 8:45,
the moment he was first accused.See footnote
Allen, a seasoned criminal, told
the officer that he understood his rights when so advised and,
without threats, promises, or force, signed his name to the waiver
form. Just two hours later, he signed an identical waiver form
after again being orally advised and instructed to read the form.
Despite Allen's protestations to the contrary, the record reveals
that Logsdon instructed Allen that the polygraph interview was
voluntary, that he could refuse to answer questions, and that he
could stop the interview at any time. As a consequence, and in
spite of its defects, Logsdon's oral advisement does not nullify
the prior, proper advisement Allen received. The warnings were
close in time, and Allen had already confirmed that he understood
his rights. Logsdon's improper remarks may have affected Allen's
subsequent decision to waive his rights - a question of
voluntariness - but those remarks did not annul the proper written
and oral warnings Allen received.
(2) Voluntariness of Statements
Instead, Allen attacks the validity of his waiver of rights at
the outset of the polygraph interrogation and, as its "poisoned
fruit," all subsequent statements he made. A waiver is an
intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right.
Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (1981). Determination of whether
a defendant's waiver of constitutional rights was voluntary is
reviewed case-by-case and depends on the unique facts and
circumstances of that case, including the defendant's background,
experience, and conduct. Id.
Allen claims that he was tricked or coerced into signing the waiver of rights form at the polygraph interview. This argument is based on Dickerson v. State, where the defendant was asked to sign the waiver of rights form "if he understood it." 276 N.E.2d at 850. In that case, the officer who asked for the signature failed to give the defendant an oral advisement, to confirm the defendant's understanding of his rights, or to ask the defendant if he desired to waive his rights. The manner in which the officer
asked for the defendant's signature could therefore have deceived
him into thinking that his signature indicated only his comprehension of his rights, not that he was actually waiving them.
Allen's case is distinguishable because he voluntarily waived
his rights subsequent to a proper advisement just two hours before.
That first waiver was close in time and a significant link in the
chain of events leading to the challenged waiver. He signed a
waiver form a second time, and he was told he did not have to do
anything. These circumstances, taken together, negate the claim
that Allen was tricked into relinquishing his rights, even if
Logsdon's remarks may have influenced Allen not to reclaim his
Allen also claims his waiver was involuntary because he did not affirm his understanding of his rights. We are not persuaded. After all, he signed the waiver document after Detective Logsdon instructed him to read it. Miranda does not require an officer to provide the accused with "the quantum of knowledge which an attorney would require before rendering legal advice." Armour v. State, 479 N.E.2d 1294, 1298-99 (Ind. 1985). It is enough that Allen verbally confirmed his understanding of his rights. That he twice signed a document clearly spelling out his rights and specifically stating that he understood the same is also evidence that he waived them voluntarily. Just as a signed waiver document is not conclusive proof that the waiver was given knowingly and
intelligently, freely and voluntarily, the defendant's signature
cannot be dismissed simply because he disavows it after he is
Allen's suggestion that he be polygraphed also points toward
a voluntary waiver. His remark clearly propelled events forward.
Allen's willingness to speak while being physically monitored is
clear, unrebutted evidence of the completeness of his waiver.
Considering Allen's conduct, apparently normal mental capacity,See footnote
and extensive criminal record,See footnote
it is abundantly clear that Allen
knew and waived his rights.
Allen argues that his incriminating statements must be suppressed because investigating officers allegedly failed to notify him of the reason for his interrogation. This argument was squarely rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in Colorado v. Spring, 479 U.S. 564 (1989).See footnote 11 The constitutional issue does not concern
the tactical wisdom of the defendant's choice to speak, but only
the defendant's voluntariness in choosing to speak.
Allen asserts that his Miranda rights were violated by police
officers who ignored his invocation of the right to remain silent
and his demand for counsel. Specifically, he claims that he
invoked his right to remain silent when he exclaimed, "Wait a
minute, hold it, hold it," (R. at 338), and that he invoked his
right to counsel when he asked to speak to his mother.
In Michigan v. Mosley, 423 U.S. 96 (1975), the Court held that a confession obtained in an interrogation initiated some time after a suspect cut off earlier questioning did not violate Miranda. Evidence obtained in this way may be admissible even though a subsequent interview was initiated by an officer, so long as the police scrupulously honor the defendant's right. Id. The Court reasoned that Miranda does not forever prohibit law enforcement
officials from speaking to a suspect once she decides not to speak;
room is left for the officer to inquire whether the suspect has
changed her mind and decided to speak. When an officer ceases
questioning at the time a suspect indicates she is not willing to
answer and, prior to any subsequent questioning, the suspect is
again advised of her rights, the suspect's rights have been
respected if she then decides to speak. Id.
Allen's exclamation, "hold it," was simply not an invocation
of the right to remain silent. In context, it is readily apparent
that Allen's exclamation was nothing more than an instantaneous
reaction to learning that the polygraph indicated a lack of
truthfulness when he was questioned about the murder weapon. (R.
at 334-38.) Allen did not communicate by words or conduct a desire
to cease answering questions. We conclude that Allen did not
invoke his right to cut off questioning.
A similar outcome befalls Allen's claim that the police denied his right to counsel. The right to counsel during custodial interrogation is more profound than the right not to speak and, once invoked, it cannot be waived except upon the initiation of the accused. Edwards, 451 U.S. at 484-85. The Edwards Court emphasized the inconsistency with Miranda that would attend a rule permitting law enforcement authorities, "at their insistence, to reinterrogate an accused in custody if he has clearly asserted his right to counsel." Id. at 485 (emphasis added).
Allen argues that he did not understand the meaning of the word "counsel" because Logsdon misled him. He points to Logsdon's improper remark that "counsel doesn't mean lawyer, it could be pretty much anybody," (R. at 307), followed by Allen's requests to speak to his mother. Still, the totality of circumstances does not show that Allen clearly asserted a desire for the advice or presence of counsel.
Examination of Logsdon's dialogue with Allen shows that Allen
was aware of his right to an attorney but showed no interest in
speaking to one. It is readily apparent that Logsdon wanted Allen
not to change his mind about doing the polygraph interrogation, but
Logsdon did in fact talk to him about lawyers and the appointment
of an attorney in addition to making the "pretty much anybody"
remark. Allen responded each time. Logsdon then presented Allen
with a Miranda waiver form, suggested he read it, told him "[t]hat
don't mean you have [to] do anything," and referred to the
advisement of rights. (R. at 308.) Allen signed it. He never
demonstrated confusion about the meaning of "counsel" and did not
show interest in the advice of counsel.
Some fifteen to thirty minutes later, Allen first requested to speak to his mother. He said he had wanted to talk to her since early in the evening to "let her know what's happenin[g]." (R. at 323.) Logsdon responded that he would ask other officers to contact her and then he left the room. When he returned, he told
Allen he had spoken with an officer who had gone to his mother's
home and talked to her. Allen would not mention his mother again
for half an hour. On the basis of this exchange, we conclude that
Allen did not clearly assert his right to counsel when he asked to
speak with his mother.
We reach the same conclusion with respect to Allen's second
and third requests to speak to his mother. No reason exists for
this Court to find that Allen was actually invoking his
constitutional rights because there is no evidence of him
conceptually linking "mother" with counsel, attorney, lawyer, or
rights. Allen asked to speak to his mother only when his story
began collapsing under the weight of negative polygraph results.
The essence of the Supreme Court's holding in Doyle v. Ohio,
426 U.S. 610 (1976), is that a defendant's silence after he has
been advised of his rights cannot be used to obtain a conviction by
implying that the silence is rooted in guilty knowledge.
Allen talked for nearly six hours, including four after his second warning. The police asked him to give a written statement, but he declined. His rights were respected, and no misuse was made of this fact. The next afternoon he was advised of his rights again and gave a voluntary statement. He simply was not silent.
Without the defendant's silence being used to suggest that he
"silently confessed," there is no Doyle violation.
Allen asserts the prosecutor used perjured testimony of police
witnesses and relied on that testimony in closing argument. The
alleged perjury occurred when officers testified they had not told
Allen specific facts regarding the crimes against Griffin. Allen
says they had given him some specific facts. Thus, when the
prosecutor in closing argument asserted that the only way Allen
knew about the murder was that he was the perpetrator, the
allegedly false police testimony may have improperly bolstered the
weight of Allen's incriminating statements and thus "had an effect
on the outcome of the trial." Napue v. Illinois, 360 U.S. 264, 272
Allen provides no evidence showing the particular testimony he
challenges is false. Absent such a showing, this claim lacks
substance. The challenged portion of the prosecutor's summation
refers to conversations police officers had with Allen before his
interrogation by Logsdon. Accordingly, the prosecutor's closing
argument was based on legitimate evidence.
Allen contends the victim's statements to Dr. Seaman were
hearsay and should have been excluded from evidence. Allen's trial
counsel, however, did not object when Dr. Seaman testified.
Failure to object at trial waives any claim of error and allows
otherwise inadmissible hearsay evidence to be considered for
substantive purposes and to establish a material fact at issue.
Banks v. State, 567 N.E.2d 1126 (Ind. 1991). Nevertheless, we
address Allen's claim on the merits because the decision not to
object impacts his ineffective assistance of counsel claim.
Hearsay is an out-of-court statement offered at trial to prove
the truth of the matter asserted. Blue v. Brooks, 261 Ind. 338,
303 N.E.2d 269 (1973). Hearsay may not be admitted as substantive
evidence unless it comes within one of the recognized exceptions to
the hearsay rule.
The substance of Griffin's remarks to Dr. Seaman was that the man who shopped for his car on July 13 wrote his name and telephone number on a piece of paper that he left with her. Allen contends this permits the trier of fact to infer that Allen was present and wrote the note found in Griffin's home. The State responds that the remarks were not hearsay because they were not offered for the purpose of proving that Allen wrote the note or that Allen was present, but for the purpose of explaining the course of Dr.
Seaman's conduct. This conduct included writing Allen's telephone
number on his own note, calling Allen's residence that evening,
and, ultimately, directing the police to Allen's place of
Allen's claim is plausible but unconvincing. We conclude that
Griffin's statements were not hearsay and would properly be
admitted to show their effect on Dr. Seaman and to explain his
conduct. Griffin's comment that a "black man" wrote the note
simply does not prove that Allen was the writer. In contrast, the
prosecutor followed Dr. Seaman's testimony with a line of questions
that laid an evidentiary foundation for the admission of Dr.
Seaman's handwritten note containing Allen's name and home
telephone number and his testimony that he called that number.
This line of questioning demonstrates that Griffin's statement was
used for the purpose stated and thus was not hearsay. We cannot
say that, had an objection been lodged and overruled, the ruling
would have been an abuse of discretion. See Boyd v. State, 494
N.E.2d 284 (Ind. 1986), cert. denied 479 U.S. 1046 (1987).See footnote
D. Autopsy Pictures
The admission of the slides was not an error, much less
fundamental error. All the pictures depicted injuries suffered by
the victim and each could be described by a witness via oral
testimony, thus meeting the general criteria of admissibility for
photographs. Phillips v. State, 550 N.E.2d 1290 (Ind. 1990).
Admission of pictures of a homicide victim is not reversible error
if the pictures are relevant and the relevance is not outweighed by
a tendency to inflame or impassion the jury against the defense.
Webster v. State, 426 N.E.2d 1295 (Ind. 1981). Although the slides
are close-ups of Griffin's injuries, none of the pictures at issue
are especially inflammatory. It is not immediately apparent
that Allen was (or would have been) deprived of a fair trial by
As for the particular slide in which Griffin's scalp is peeled
back, Exhibit 94-10, we agree with Allen it was erroneously
admitted. Although the State argues the slide showed a potentially
mortal wound otherwise obscured by the victim's hair, autopsy
photographs are generally inadmissible if they show the body in an
altered condition. Loy v. State, 436 N.E.2d 1125, 1128 (Ind. 1982)
("Such a display may impute the handiwork of the physician to the
accused assailant and thereby render the defendant responsible in
the minds of the jurors for the cuts, incisions, and indignity of
an autopsy."). An objection to this slide's admission probably
would have been sustained because the relevant fact substantiated
by the slide was cumulative of other evidence of Griffin's cause of
death. Still, the slide's admission was not fundamental error.
While the slide reveals a deep wound and is certainly unpleasant to
view, its admission was harmless in view of the overwhelming
evidence properly admitted to prove the cause of death.
Allen claims he was denied due process by the trial court's refusal to instruct on the lesser included offense of theft on Count III, the robbery charge. Although a guilt-phase issue, the
gravity of this claim is its potential effect on sentencing: a
verdict of guilty for theft instead of robbery would have prevented
the State from proving the charged death penalty aggravator,
intentional killing during the commission of a robbery. Ind. Code
Ann. § 35-50-2-9(b)(1) (West 1986).
Indiana courts utilize a three-step process for determining whether an instruction on a lesser included offense must be given. Wright v. State, 658 N.E.2d 563 (Ind. 1995). First, we read the language of the charging document to determine whether the alleged lesser included offense is inherently included in the crime charged. Id. at 566. If the offense is inherently included in the greater, then the trial court proceeds to step three. But, if the court determines that it is not inherently included, then the court must take the second step of comparing the statute that defines the alleged lesser included offense with the charging instrument in order to determine if the lesser offense is factually included in the charge. Id. at 567. Finally, once the trial court has determined that an lesser offense is included either inherently or factually, the court must look at the evidence presented by both parties to decide whether "there is a serious evidentiary dispute about the element or elements distinguishing the greater from the lesser offense" such that a jury could conclude that the lesser included offense was committed but not the greater. Id. If the answer to this question is yes, then instruction on the lesser included offense must be given, and failure to do so is reversible
error. Id.; Gordon v. State, 499 N.E.2d 228 (Ind. 1986). This
rule has been recognized as constitutional by the Supreme Court.
Beck v. Alabama, 447 U.S. 625, 636 n.12 (1980) (citing with
approval Pruitt v. State, 269 Ind. 559, 382 N.E.2d 150 (1978) (test
for whether refusal of instruction on lesser included offense is
error is whether evidence was adduced at trial to which the lesser
included offense instruction was applicable)). Nevertheless, Allen
would have us alter the rule depending on either the circumstantial
or direct nature of the evidence or whether, without regard to the
evidence, the State has negated every theory of defense conceived
by counsel. We decline.
Applying the process outlined above, we conclude that the
trial court was correct in denying Allen's request for an
instruction on theft. Theft is a lesser included offense of
robbery, Landers v. State, 464 N.E.2d 912 (Ind. 1984), but there is
no evidence of simple theft in the record. In fact, the evidence
points the other way. The crime scene is a picture of violence.
The victim lies with a knife in her chest. A bloody and broken
toaster lies near her head. There is damage to a closet door, a
kitchen counter, and so on. A camera box sits without the camera.
All in all, plenty of force and evidence of missing property.
Against this evidence, Allen's counsel suggests, for instance, that perhaps the victim had given Allen the camera, or that he may have gained it on some other day. This speculation does not create
a "serious evidentiary dispute." The trial court correctly refused
to instruct on theft.
Allen contends that notice of the insanity defense filed by his first attorney put the court on notice of his incompetence to stand trial. He maintains that the mere fact that this notice was filed obligated the trial court to order sua sponte a psychiatric evaluation. Allen argues this in spite of the fact that his appointed trial counsel withdrew both the notice and the motion for psychiatric examination (which had been granted) when abandoning the insanity defense. Essentially, present counsel asks us to oblige trial courts to second-guess defense counsel's strategy when the insanity defense is abandoned. We will not. A trial court is permitted, if not expected, to rely on the strategic judgment of
counsel. In any event, a request for psychiatric examination is
not evidence of incompetency. Cook v. State, 258 Ind. 667, 284
N.E.2d 81 (1972).
There is no record of police awareness of Allen's alleged
mental incompetence prior to or during interrogation. Likewise,
there was no evidence tending to give the trial court reason to
suspect that Allen was mentally retarded. We find no error.
Allen makes a plethora of arguments in support of his claim
that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. These
arguments attack his representation in the guilt and penalty phases
of his trial and on appeal. Accordingly, we set out the standard
for judging ineffectiveness claims first and then address Allen's arguments in chronological order.
The standard governing claims of ineffective assistance of counsel was set out by the U.S. Supreme Court in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). The Strickland test requires a defendant to show that his or her counsel's representation both fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, id. at 688, and prejudiced a defendant's case such that confidence in its result is undermined. Id. at 694. Counsel is presumed effective. Thus, the
burden of proving counsel's ineffectiveness rests squarely on the
shoulders of the claimant.
Although the strategic decision not to file a motion to
suppress Allen's custodial interrogation might be considered an
unusual defense practice, especially in light of Allen's colorable
claim based on Detective Logsdon's terrible Miranda advisement, the
fact that the motion was not made does not render the whole of
counsel representation ineffective, nor does it prove that the
verdict was unreliable.
Allen relies on Pemberton v. State, 560 N.E.2d 524 (Ind.
1990), in which we reversed a conviction on the basis of
ineffective assistance because counsel failed to preserve an issue
of constitutional magnitude for appeal. The issue disputed in
Pemberton was an improperly suggestive "show-up" of the two
defendants, which was admitted as evidence of out-of-court
identification. The issue was fully aired in a hearing on a pre-
trial motion to suppress, but counsel failed to lodge a
contemporaneous objection at trial. Having already focused the
court on the identification issue and invested so much energy in
battle over it, the failure to object at trial was inexplicable.
We held counsel's performance deficient because the omission led to
waiver of an issue which might have directly affected the trial's
outcome, Strickland's prejudice prong.
This case does not square with Pemberton. Trial counsel's decision to file a motion in limine instead of a motion to suppress could well have rested on strategic reasons. Allen's present counsel calls the decision to rely on a motion in limine "baffling," but he tenders no argument explaining why the choice of tactics was deficient and prejudicial. There was strong evidence other than Allen's own admissions that placed him in Griffin's home at the time of her murder, including evidence of Griffin's blood on Allen's clothing, so defense counsel argued that Allen was not guilty of murder because he was overcome by sudden heat when the victim insulted him with racial epithets and
threatened him with a knife. This strategy was not unreasonable,
and it was entirely consistent with Allen's admissions. Defense
counsel may have calculated that the risk of having the entire
polygraph interrogation placed before the jury was too great (in
case a motion to suppress was denied) and that control over the use
of this evidence was more valuable than its unfettered admission.See footnote
Most important, however, is that Allen's statements were the
source of counsel's argument imploring the jury to consider
convicting him on just the lesser included charge of voluntary
manslaughter. If this strategy had succeeded, it would have spared
Allen the death sentence. The strategic decision not to file a
motion to suppress Allen's statements therefore did not deprive
Allen of fair adversarial testing of the evidence. In the absence
of solid appellate argument showing the folly of such strategy, we
opine no further about the soundness of the single decision not to
file a motion to suppress. Isolated poor strategy, inexperience,
or bad tactics do not necessarily amount to ineffectiveness of
counsel. Pemberton, 560 N.E.2d at 526.
Assuming for the sake of argument that counsel's failure to
file a motion to suppress is performance so deficient as to meet
the first prong of Strickland, we do not see prejudice sufficient
to satisfy the second prong of that test. The case against Allen
was so strong there is not a reasonable probability that the
verdict might have been different but for counsel's alleged
As for Allen's claims that defense counsel erred by not
objecting to the admission of testimony about the exercise of his
right to cut off questioning, counsel's failure to object was not
deficient because there was no error to which he could take
exception. See supra Parts II(A)(3). Counsel's failure to object
to the introduction of Griffin's out-of-court remarks to Dr. Seaman
and the omission of tendering in writing a jury instruction on
theft are unavailing for the same reason. See supra Part II(C) and
Allen's claims that counsel was ineffective during the guilt phase because he failed to request a competency hearing and introduce evidence of mental retardation are similarly groundless. See supra Part II(F). Allen's competency was never in question, and, judging by the eight page dialogue he had with the trial judge at the sentencing hearing, Allen was fully aware of the nature of the proceedings and capable of assisting in his defense. (See R. at 3173-81.) The fact that defense counsel failed to perceive
incompetence or mental retardation in his client, when his client gave him no reason to so perceive, is not ineffective assistance.
To summarize, the reliability of Allen's convictions for
robbery and felony murder were not undermined by his attorney's
representation. The convictions flowed from the evidence, which
was tested by cross-examination and interpreted for the jury in the
argument of counsel. Allen was not denied his right to effective
assistance of counsel during the guilt phase of his trial.
Allen argues four grounds to support his claim of ineffective
assistance of counsel at the penalty phase. These are counsel's
failures to: present evidence to rebut the charged statutory
aggravator, present coherent closing argument, develop and present
mitigatory evidence, and object to admission of allegedly false
evidence or put on rebuttal evidence at the sentencing hearing.
By stipulation, the guilt phase evidence was incorporated into the penalty phase hearing, an ordinary procedure in capital cases. This included evidence of Griffin's autopsy, which showed that she had been struck forcefully about the head before and after being
stabbed to death. Griffin was seventy-four years old and partially
disabled because of childhood polio. The first blows knocked her
to the floor. Laying prone, unable to right or defend herself, a
large knife taken from her kitchen was plunged into her chest.
Finally, she was struck about the head with a toaster. The
physical evidence shows there can be no doubt that Ernestine
Griffin was intentionally killed.
There was little evidence defense counsel could cite to rebut
a finding of intentional killing, but he certainly did not concede
proof of the statutory aggravator. Rather, he made the best effort
he could by attacking the credibility of the evidence, a tactic
which did not require introduction of new evidence. His decision
to attack the existing evidence was all he could do. It was
objectively reasonable and not ineffective under Strickland.
Appellate counsel's argument that Alex Voils' closing argument to the jury was incoherent is nothing more than a personal attack. Voils' argument was indeed coherent and was directed at what he perceived to be the weakest link in the State's case. On its face, this claim lacks merit. Worse yet, it is the type of argument likely to have a chilling effect on the willingness of members of the defense bar to try capital cases. See Strickland, 466 U.S. at 690 (warning that abuse of the ineffectiveness challenge could
"dampen the ardor . . . of defense counsel, discourage the
acceptance of assigned cases, and undermine the trust between
attorney and client.")
Appellate counsel attempts to shoehorn a claim that Allen is
mentally retarded into this direct appeal by asserting that trial
counsel did not investigate. See infra Part IV(C). As we explain
later, the trial court's examination of present counsel's
submissions on remand suggest that the evidence trial counsel
offered covered the territory with some accuracy.
The State counters that the evidence was neither false nor
unreliable and that Allen fails to show the falsity of the
challenged evidence. Essentially, the State responds that no error
was committed under Johnson v. Mississippi, 486 U.S. 578
(1988)(death sentence vacated when a charged aggravator was
premised on materially inaccurate, prejudicial evidence), and thus
the sentence must stand.
Neither party persuades us. The State correctly points out
that this case is not similar to Johnson,See footnote
but it misses the crux
of Allen's argument. Nevertheless, we conclude that Allen was not
deprived of effective assistance of counsel by his attorney's
response to the challenged evidence.
The gravamen of Allen's claim is that his trial attorney "abandoned" him by not challenging the allegedly untrue evidence. There was no reason for defense counsel or the trial court to doubt the veracity of the evidence Allen now challenges. All of the statements regarding Allen's I.Q. and level of education were contained in official documents pertaining to Allen's prior offenses and applications for parole.See footnote 16 These documents are
entitled to a high degree of credibility. If a factfinder is to
discredit such evidence, then the claimant must offer some credible
evidence tending to show the unreliability of the challenged
In the absence of evidence of misconduct or error in
the administration of tests or the preparation of documents, trial
counsel is not ineffective for not attempting a futile endeavor.
Likewise, trial counsel had no reason to doubt the veracity of evidence about Allen's home and family life contained in the same official documents. Present counsel writes, "Trial counsel did not inform the court the evidence before it was false and, had counsel known the evidence was false, there exists no sound strategy reason for failing to inform the court of the 'truth'." (Appellant's Br.at 145.) This argument, however, runs contrary to the testimony
Allen's sister AprilSee footnote
and his mother RubySee footnote
provided during the
sentencing hearing before the judge. It is clear that Allen was not
denied effective assistance of counsel because of a failure to
object to the admission of statements found in government documents
which were identical in content to those of his own mother and
The motion to correct errors was once a critical stage in
Indiana practice because of its jurisdictional role in marshalling
the issues for appeal. It is, however, no longer critical for this
purpose. Thus, a claim under Cronic cannot be sustained when a
defendant is denied counsel, either actually or constructively, at
the motion to correct errors stage.
Allen's claim is unusual in that it straddles a rule change: the motion to correct errors was still a jurisdictional stage of the proceedings at the time of his trial. Since then, we have amended Trial Rule 59 so that the motion to correct errors is no longer a condition precedent to appellate jurisdiction. We took stock of the rule change and immunized Allen from procedural default by specifically affirming Allen's right to raise any and all issues on appeal when we removed David Sexson and appointed new counsel and struck Sexson's brief. As a result, even though the motion to correct errors was a critical stage at the time of Allen's conviction, the prejudice owing to any lack of representation has been removed.See footnote 21
IV. Penalty Phase Claims
because it is based on non-statutory aggravators and improper
evidence of the victim's character.
Allen claims he is entitled to a new penalty phase hearing
because his right of confrontation was violated when the trial
judge engaged in ex parte communications with the jury during
deliberation. As a technical matter, he is correct in noting the
error. Brown v. State, 543 N.E.2d 1120 (Ind. 1989). The error did
not prejudice Allen's substantial rights, however, and therefore
does not entitle Allen to a new penalty hearing.
The two ex parte communications Allen cites were responses
from the judge to two written questions from the jury:
We have not complete (sic) our deliberations yet, but we would like to know what happens if we find it impossible to reach a unanimous decision.
We do not feel we can reach a decision on a
recommendation right now - is it possible to stop tonight
and resume tomorrow?
The trial judge responded in writing:
Please reread all the instructions. Thank you.
We have dinner arranged for you this evening
for around 7:30 pm.
In response to your question: it is possible
to stop tonight and resume tomorrow.
(R. at 216-17.)
The Indiana Constitution, art. I, § 13, guarantees a criminal
defendant the right to be present at all stages of the proceedings
by protecting an accused's rights to a public trial by an impartial
jury. This right may be waived by the defendant. Harris v. State,
249 Ind. 681, 231 N.E.2d 800 (1967). A defendant's absence from
any stage of the proceedings gives rise to a presumption that
prejudicial error has occurred; the burden is on the State to rebut
the presumption. James v. State, 613 N.E.2d 15 (Ind. 1993).
To rebut, the State points to Hogan v. State, 274 Ind. 119, 409 N.E.2d 588 (1980). In Hogan, we affirmed a conviction by holding a judge's face-to-face ex parte order to the jury to "read the instructions" was harmless error. Insofar as Judge Barney's communication to the jury was done in a one-sentence note, and thus
more attenuated than face-to-face communication, we conclude this was harmless error.See footnote 22
Regarding the second communication, we consider it frivolous
to claim prejudice from the trial judge's communication to the jury
about dinner and breaking for the night.
Allen contends that he was denied due process because of
excessive delay in his appeal. He maintains that a criminal
defendant's appeal of right is rendered meaningless if state
procedures make it difficult or impossible to be heard. See Harris
v. Champion, 15 F.3d 1538 (10th Cir. 1994) ("The fundamental
requirement of due process is the opportunity to be heard at a
meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.") (quoting Mathews v.
Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 333 (1976))
A right to a speedy appeal is not contemplated within the Sixth Amendment. Gajdos v. State, 462 N.E.2d 1017 (Ind. 1984);
accord United States v. Alston, 412 A.2d 351, 355 n.7 (D.C. 1980).
A criminal defendant must be afforded equal protection and due
process of law, however, so appellate delay is not "beyond the
scrutiny of the federal Constitution."See footnote
Gajdos, 462 N.E.2d at
1023. Two tests have emerged for assessing speedy appeal claims.
The "majority rule," requested by petitioner, is a slightly
modified version of the four-pronged speedy trial standard adopted
in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514 (1972); the "minority rule" is a
two-step analysis focusing on prejudice, if any, to the defendant
caused by the government's delay. Alston, 412 A.2d at 359. The
tests are similar in that both emphasize the importance of
prejudice to substantial rights. The principal differences between
the tests are that the Alston test does not consider whether the
defendant asserted her right to a timely appeal, nor does it weigh
the length of delay for any reason other than its prejudicial
effect. Id. The majority of federal circuits that have addressed
this issue have utilized the Barker test, as has our own Court of
Appeals. Wright v. State, 591 N.E.2d 1053 (Ind. Ct. App. 1992).
Allen urges this Court do the same.
We conclude that Allen does not prevail even under the Barker
test he requests.
The Barker test's four prongs are (1) the length
of delay, (2) the reason for the delay, (3) the petitioner's
assertion of his right to timely adjudication of his appeal, and
(4) the prejudice attaching to the defendant as a result of
excessive delay. Barker, 407 U.S. at 530. Three types of
prejudice have been recognized within the fourth prong: oppressive
incarceration, constitutionally cognizable anxiety pending the
appeal's disposition, and impairment of the defendant's substantial
rights either on appeal or in a new trial. Harris v. Champion, 15
F.3d 1538, 1547 (10th Cir. 1994). Because the inquiry examines the
legal process afforded the claimant, each case turns on its
peculiar facts, and the claimant must make a particularized showing
of prejudice caused by any excessive delay. Id. at 1559. The
available remedies range from expediting the appeal to dismissing
the underlying criminal charges. Allen prays in the instant case
for reversal of his conviction and dismissal with prejudice of all
charges against him, or, alternatively, reversal and remand for a
Allen claims that due process was denied him because pauper appellate counsel was not appointed for him until March 1992. The elapsed time was forty-four months since he was sentenced and twenty-five months from denial of his pro se belated motion to correct errors. He also points out that his appeal was not fully briefed by counsel until July 29, 1994, more than five years from
the denial of his pro se belated motion to correct errors. Present
counsel, of course, completed briefing promptly after being
appointed. Allen demands that the time be calculated in toto
rather than in segments. Therefore, he claims the delay is
presumptively unconstitutional, and satisfies the first Barker
prong. See Harris, 15 F.3d at 1560-61 nn. 10-12. We decline to
accept Allen's contention.
The essence of Allen's claim is that state action denied him a constitutional right. This requires us to examine the actions of State actors, more than merely looking at the calendar. Where the State can demonstrate "good and sufficient cause or special circumstances" for the delay, a presumption of unconstitutional delay may be overcome. Harris, 14 F.3d at 1560 (citation omitted). We agree with Allen that the delay in this case exceeds accepted notions of reasonableness, but this only entitles Allen to a presumption that can be rebutted. There are some circumstances that, though not justifying delay, explain much of it.See footnote 24 What is not explicable, and leads us to find the delay in adjudicating this appeal unreasonable, is the two-year delay in the appointment of pauper counsel. The trial court's lack of diligence tips the first Barker factor in Allen's favor.
Second, Allen maintains that he was not responsible for the delay in processing his appeal. This is not entirely true because Allen's act of filing a pro se motion to correct errors caused an irretrievable break-down in the attorney-client relationship and put counsel's continued representation into a conflict with Allen's own interest. Allen bears the responsibility for any delay caused by this act, but he is not responsible for the trial court's delay in appointing successor counsel or managing the court reporter. Nor can Allen be assessed the responsibility for appellate counsel Sexson's delay in filing the brief. Thus, we conclude that Allen has caused relatively little of the delay in adjudicating this appeal.
Allen asserts he meets Barker's third prong because he
consistently pressed his cause, which invoked his right to a prompt
resolution of his appeal. This argument is not convincing,
especially in light of his reliance on Harris.See footnote
Allen has filed
the same papers as any other appellant. He has not filed any
documents indicating a desire to speed the process. Accordingly,
Barker's third factor does not weigh in Allen's favor.
Prejudice to the claimant is the most important prong of the Barker test. Allen claims that delay has prejudiced him in two
ways: he suffers constitutionally cognizable anxiety and he cannot
receive a fundamentally fair review of his conviction and sentence
in this direct appeal.See footnote
"Constitutionally cognizable anxiety" is a nebulous notion.
In Harris v. Champion, the Tenth Circuit attempted to flesh out the
concept. That court noted:
[T]hat a petitioner is anxious about the outcome of the
appeal from the day the notice of appeal is filed is of
no consequence; the anxiety must relate to the period of
time that the appeal was excessively delayed.
Harris, 15 F.3d at 1564. The court enunciated a rule requiring the
claimant to make a particularized and substantial showing of
anxiety and concern owing to the delay, except in cases of delay so
egregious as to trigger the presumptive prejudice found in Doggett v. United States, 505 U.S. 647 (1992).See footnote 27
Allen claims that he has suffered "constitutionally cognizable
anxiety" in this way:
It is difficult to imagine anything more anxiety-
producing and more inhumane, than the daily and agonizing
specter of your own execution at the hands of a system
which has repeatedly violated your most precious
(Appellant's Br. at 51.) This hyperbole fails to specify any
particular and substantial anxiety resulting from the delay; all
death sentences are "anxiety-producing." Allen does not
demonstrate that he suffers "constitutionally cognizable" anxiety.
Allen also claims the time his case has taken prevents a fair
review in this Court. Allen does not show, however, how his
ability to present this appeal has been prejudiced by the passage
of time. To the contrary, this Court removed ineffective appellate
counsel, appointed replacement counsel, and protected him against
procedural default. Furthermore, as Indiana's death penalty
jurisprudence has developed, the passage of time has strengthened
some of Allen's claims. See discussion infra, Part IV(E). Allen's
appellate rights have not been prejudiced.
Allen offers two arguments about delay and possible prejudice
in case of a retrial. First, he says the passage of time will dim
the memories of the police officers who interrogated him. This
argument is meritless because we hold that the interrogation is not
a constitutional violation. As to Allen's second contention,
prejudice due to the death of a material witness,See footnote
Allen fails to
show how the witness' testimony is material or why it could not be
presented by other witnesses. In any event, we see no present
reason for a new trial.
Balancing the four Barker factors, we conclude Allen has not
been denied due process by the length of time his appeal has taken.
Although the delay is presumptively prejudicial and Allen is not
responsible for most of it, he has neither demanded expedited
review nor proven actual prejudice. This last consideration,
actual prejudice, weighs most heavily against him.
Allen maintains that his death sentence must be reversed
because he is mentally retarded. Indiana now immunizes mentally
retarded criminals from the death penalty. Ind. Code Ann. § 35-36-
9-1 to -7 (West Supp. 1996).See footnote
As a result, Allen claims he may
only be sentenced to a term of years. Allen recognizes that for
this Court to so hold, we would have to apply the mental
retardation exemption retroactively because he was sentenced nearly
six years before its enactment.
Allen urges four arguments in support of his position. He first argues that Section 35-36-9 alters death sentence eligibility
for a class of offenders due to a personal characteristic that is
"not controllable or manipulable." He asserts that refusal to
extend the statute to him would violate due process and equal
protection, and constitute vindictive justice and cruel and unusual
punishment. Allen does not offer much on retroactivity to support
this contention, but instead attempts to bootstrap his "evolving
standards of decency" argument onto due process and equal
protection analyses. This argument is not a substitute for
contentions recognized in the jurisprudence of these two clauses.
Moreover, the principal case on vindictive justice cited by Allen,
Vicory v. State, 272 Ind. 683, 400 N.E.2d 1380 (1980), is largely
contrary to his position.
Second, he asserts that new evidence shows him to be retarded,
and that he would be the first and last mentally retarded person
executed in Indiana.See footnote
This claim is unfounded; the trial court
has not found that Allen is retarded. See infra, Part IV(F).
Third, Allen demands retroactive application of mental retardation death penalty immunity based on Daniels v. State, 561 N.E.2d 487 (Ind. 1990). He contends that he may receive the new statute's benefit notwithstanding Daniels because his conviction and sentence are not yet final. Daniels, like Teague v. Lane, 489
U.S. 288 (1989), dealt not with a statutory privilege, right, or
immunity, but with changes in constitutional law. Absent a
constitutional mandate for the rule exempting mentally retarded
individuals, this Court is neither expected nor required to engage
in retroactivity analysis. Rather, the extent of our writ is to
enforce the law as it was at the time Allen committed his crimes.
Watford v. State, 270 Ind. 262, 384 N.E.2d 1030 (1979).
Allen's fourth and last argument is that to execute him in the
face of his mental frailties would offend evolving standards of
decency, thereby rendering the punishment vindictive, cruel, and
unusual. The idea that the legislature decided to exempt mentally
retarded criminals from the death penalty as a statement of
society's regard for the moral culpability of such individuals is
legitimate. However, the General Assembly specifically legislated
and the Governor signed into law a state of repose for claims of
mental retardation in capital cases tried before July 1, 1994,
rather than amending the Constitution or leaving the act open-ended
for judicial interpretation. Pub. L. 158-1994, Sec. 8, 1994 Ind.
Acts 1857. Ernestine Griffin was murdered in 1987 and Allen was
tried in 1988. Per the specific mandate of repose found in section
eight of Public Law 158, the trial court's judgment is not affected
by the statute exempting mentally retarded persons from the death
Allen claims that he was denied due process by the admission
of victim impact evidence. He maintains that Griffin's daughter's
testimony that Griffin was a religious woman who neither swore nor
drank alcohol, enjoyed baking, regularly attended church, read the
Bible, hosted Sunday school parties, and lived in the same house
for more than twenty years was offered for purpose of arousing
jury's sympathy for her, prejudicing Allen. He claims admission of
this evidence violates Indiana law because death penalty cases are
exempted from the statutory mandate requiring a trial court to
consider a victim impact statement prior to sentencing. Ind. Code
Ann. § 35-38-1-8.5, -9 (West Supp. 1996). Allen adds that
consideration of victim impact evidence violates both the
constitutional requirement of proportionate sentencing and the
prohibition against vindictive justice, Ind. Const. art I, §§ 16,
18. He claims it diverts the jury and trial court's attention from the defendant and his crime.
The State responds with alternative arguments. First, the State argues that the prosecutor intended only to show the victim's propensities not to use violence and not to use certain racially derogatory slurs and curse words. Second, the State insists that even if this evidence was improperly admitted under Bivins v. State, 642 N.E.2d 928 (Ind. 1994)(victim impact evidence inadmissible in capital cases), the admission was harmless.
We agree with both the State's contentions. Evidence of Griffin's character was relevant to rebut Allen's version of the facts: that while Allen was in Griffin's home she cursed and insulted him and then attacked him with a knife, causing him to strike back at her. Even though this guilt-phase evidence may have been unnecessarily drawn out in rebuttal, the prosecutor did not expressly rely on it in his argument to the jury. Accordingly, Allen cannot demonstrate prejudice because the jury's attention was
not diverted from the defendant to the victim nor was there an
appeal to the jurors' sense of vengeance.
Moreover, any prejudice was attenuated in both time and manner
of use. The allegedly prejudicial evidence was admitted during the
guilt phase, not the penalty phase or sentencing hearing, and
therefore is separated from sentencing by a significant gap in
Tension always inheres in the admission of evidence of a murder victim's character when the guilt-phase evidence is stipulated into the penalty-phase. The critical issue in measuring prejudice to the defendant is the manner in which the state employs the evidence. Death penalty trials employ a bifurcated procedure designed to provide the defendant with a just, fair legal process that ensures a death sentence is unique and particular to the
defendant and the crime. Naturally, different evidentiary
relevancy concerns are in play because different legal issues are
being resolved in a capital trial's various procedural stages.
The penalty phase differs from the guilt-phase in some
significant ways. It is a sequential, two-pronged inquiry, the
first of which is a factual determination of proof beyond a
reasonable doubt of the charged statutory aggravator. This is
clearly distinguishable from requiring the jury to test the
evidence for proof beyond a reasonable doubt of all the elements of
a crime because it is a very specific inquiry into the nature of a
murder. The second inquiry in the penalty-phase requires balancing
of aggravators and mitigators, and it is undertaken only once the
jury has found the charged statutory aggravator proven beyond a
We are satisfied that the error, if any, was harmless.
Bivins, 642 N.E.2d at 957.
Allen claims that the trial court committed constitutional and statutory error by relying on invalid aggravating factors when sentencing him to death. This claim is the one that is most adversely affected by the passage of time in the adjudication of
this appeal, because a number of cases refining capital sentencing
procedures have been decided in the interim. Directly on point,
this Court has decided Bellmore v. State, 602 N.E.2d 111 (Ind.
1992), and Bivins v. State, 642 N.E.2d 928 (Ind. 1994).
Bellmore held that the open-ended authorization for general
felony aggravators, Ind. Code Section 35-38-1-7.1(d), would be
impermissible in capital sentence proceedings as unconstitutionally
vague. Bellmore, 602 N.E.2d at 129. It also held that an
aggravating factor not among those listed in the death penalty
statute cannot be considered as "the determinative factor" when
sentencing a defendant to death. Id. (emphasis in original).
Relying on the Indiana Constitution's requirement that a death
sentence be proportionate to the nature of the offense and the
character of the offender, Ind. Const. art I, § 16, we held in
Bivins that a trial court may consider only those aggravating
circumstances specified in the death penalty statute, Indiana Code
Section 35-50-2-9(b). Bivins, 642 N.E.2d at 955.
Sentenced in 1988, Allen's death sentence predated the announcement of these rules. In the court's oral pronouncement of the sentence, it first considered the charged aggravating factor, and one uncharged aggravating factor, and the mitigating factors listed in the death penalty statute. It then considered the
general felony enhancement statute, Ind. Code Section 35-38-1-7,See footnote
and then weighed the aggravators and mitigators. The court merged
the murder and felony murder counts and sentenced Allen to death,
then sentenced him to the maximum penalty of fifty years for his
conviction of robbery as a class A felony. The court's
consideration of the general felony sentencing statute undoubtedly
was proper for the purpose of sentencing Allen on the robbery
conviction. We will, however, apply Bellmore and Bivins to
Allen's penalty of death.
On July 3, 1996, we remanded Allen's case sua sponte to the trial court for production of a written sentencing order, which was lacking in the transcript of proceedings. Unlike other cases in which we faced the deficiency of not having a written order to review, our remand order was not merely a request for a nunc pro tunc entry, e.g., Schiro v. State, 451 N.E.2d 1047 (Ind. 1983), or a writ of certiorari, e.g., Benirschke v. State, 577 N.E.2d 576 (Ind. 1991). Instead, we ordered the trial court to produce a new sentencing order that complied with the procedures explained in Roark v. State, 644 N.E.2d 565 (Ind. 1994), and the precedents established in Bellmore and Bivins. Furthermore, we noted that
Allen submitted affidavits with a belated motion to correct errors,
which had been denied, and directed the trial court to consider the
sworn statements under a Trial Rule 59 standard when issuing the
sentencing order.See footnote
Without vacating the sentence, we effectively
instructed the trial court to reconsider Allen's sentence under
narrower, stricter standards mandated by our later interpretations
of the law.
On July 30, 1996, the trial court certified its order to us.
We permitted additional briefs, and the parties submitted them.
Allen presents one issue following the remand: whether the trial
court's sentencing statement imposing a sentence of death is valid
under statutory and constitutional standards. He advances two
arguments to support his request for appellate reweighing and
sentence reduction to a term of years or vacatur of the sentence
and remand for a new penalty phase hearing before a different trial
judge: (1) that the sentencing statement is not sufficiently
specific to ensure that the trial court complied with the law, and
(2) that the trial court did not comply with either statutory or
The sentencing order's first sentence states: "The Court
finds that the State has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the
aggravating circumstance of intentionally killing the victim while
committing a robbery exists." (Supp. R. at 79.) This finding is
supported by the record, and thus passes muster.
Allen's second argument, that the court's "sentencing statement is insufficient because it fails to demonstrate statutory or constitutional compliance," has five subcontentions: (1) the trial judge failed to make "separate and independent judgments" with respect to the aggravator, its weight, or the balance between aggravator and mitigators; (2) the sentencing statement does not provide any assurance that the judge did not consider improper
matters; (3) the court did not conduct discrete and individualized
consideration of Allen's character; (4) the evidence relied on by
the court is not credible; and (5) the sentencing statement fails
to indicate that the death sentence was the personal conclusion of
the judge. These arguments can be pared down to whether the trial
judge properly considered and weighed the evidence, whether he
considered invalid aggravators, and whether the judge reached an
independent conclusion that a sentence of death is warranted.
Oddly, counsel claims that the order is "complete(ly) silent"
regarding the evidence of mental retardation. Judge Barney devoted
more than half of his four-page order to weighing the evidence
averred by Mary Jo Dare and Dr. Richard Dever, experts who
submitted affidavits supporting Allen's claim of retardation. He
found it controverted by other evidence in the record, which
reduces the issue to one of credibility. The trial court's
judgment about the credibility and weight of evidence is part and
parcel of its statutory balancing function. This Court will not
second-guess the trial court on questions of credibility or
weighing. Benirshke, 577 N.E.2d at 582.
Second, Allen claims the sentencing statement does not provide any assurance that the judge did not consider improper matters as aggravating factors. Specifically, he claims that the written order does not erase the errors committed in the oral pronouncement of sentence made by the judge in 1988. We disagree.
Our remand order specifically directed the trial court to take three actions that operated to Allen's benefit when issuing the written sentencing order. The first was our command that the trial court follow current capital sentencing standards, which are stricter and narrower than those of 1988. The second was our directive that the court consider evidence favorable to the defendant that was outside the trial record. Finally, we granted the full scope of Trial Rule 59 powers to the court, explicitly empowering it to grant relief such as that contemplated in sub- section (J).See footnote 33 Essentially, the trial court was invited to
reconsider its sentencing determination in light of new evidence
and a more limited weighing standard, with more specific
requirements for explaining its determination of the balance. We
consider this a fair process, one which advanced Allen's interests.
We ordered these safeguards to assure that impermissible non-
statutory aggravators were not factors weighing in the capital
sentencing balance. The trial court performed its duty under the
remand order in a straightforward way. Allen suggests nothing
Allen complains that there is a "deafening silence" from the trial court with respect to its finding that the charged aggravating factor outweighs "the possibility of the mitigating circumstance of mental retardation." This is not true. Judge Barney devoted more than fifty percent of his written order to determining the weight to ascribe to the mental retardation evidence averred. He accomplished this by comparing it to evidence already contained in the record: that Allen's criminal history showed him to be a "solo-acting criminal;" that earlier presentence
reports showed Allen with an I.Q. of 104;See footnote
that in open court his
own counsel withdrew a prior motion for psychiatric evaluation;
that none of his family members who testified on his behalf
described him as anything other than of normal intelligence;See footnote
none of the eighteen people who submitted letters on Allen's behalf
to the court hinted that he was not of normal intelligence; and
that the judge's own observation of the defendant showed that he
understood the proceedings. Accepting the facts alleged about
Allen's childhood does not compel a finding of mitigating
circumstances. Lowery v. State, 547 N.E.2d 1046 (Ind. 1989), cert.
denied 498 U.S. 881 (1990). Comparison is what a person does when
balancing, and the trial judge indeed weighed the evidence when
deciding to impose a sentence of death.
Moreover, the trial court certified on remand that it considered only one aggravating factor: the defendant's act of intentionally killing the victim while committing a robbery. It then considered statutory mitigating factors and the defendant's affidavits tending to describe him as retarded. The trial judge found the evidence relevant to mitigating factors to be of little
weight. Accordingly, he found the charged aggravator outweighed
the mitigating factors, considered the jury recommendation that the
defendant should be sentenced to death, and pronounced a sentence
of death. This is what the death penalty statute requires. Ind.
Code Ann. § 35-50-2-9 (West Supp. 1996); Roark v. State, 644 N.E.2d
565 (Ind. 1994).
Allen's claims that the sentencing statement fails to indicate
that the death sentence was the personal conclusion of the judge
and that the court did not conduct discrete and individualized
consideration of Allen's character are meritless. The written
order refers to information contained in pre-sentence reports and
personal letters that only the trial judge would have seen, not the
jury, and the order specifically refers to "the Court's own
observation of the Defendant." (Supp. R. at 81.) The court's
balancing of the evidence emphatically displays its discrete,
The trial court weighed only one statutory aggravator, which
it expressly found was proven beyond a reasonable doubt. It
considered Allen's mental retardation evidence and found it to be
of little weight. It weighed the evidence of mitigating factors
against the aggravating factor, it considered the jury's
recommendation, and then it concluded that death was the
appropriate sentence. Accordingly, the trial court's order
demonstrates satisfactorily that the court complied with statutory
and constitutional law when sentencing Allen.
The arguments made in this appeal do not demonstrate that
Howard Allen was sentenced to death in a tainted, unconstitutional
proceeding. The fact that the arguments made by Allen's counsel
did not convince the jury not to recommend the death penalty or the
judge not to impose it does not prove that counsel was ineffective
or that Allen did not receive a fair hearing. The evidence that
Ernestine Griffin was intentionally killed and that Howard Allen is
her killer overwhelms. There is little evidence that Allen is
mentally retarded, and none that shows him to be incapable of
appreciating the criminality of his conduct or to conform it to the
law. At sentencing, Allen's colloquy with the trial judge amply
demonstrated that he was mentally present and that he understood
the proceedings. As a result, the trial court's balance of the
statutory aggravator against the scant evidence in mitigation and
the court's due consideration of the jury's recommendation are
reasonable in fact and supportable in law. We conclude that the
aggravating circumstance outweighs the mitigating circumstance and
that the penalty is appropriate to the offense and the offender.
Accordingly, we affirm the trial court.
Dickson, Sullivan, Selby, and Boehm, JJ., concur.
statis [sic] is as far as money, some people can afford a good
lawyer and some people can't, but you know if you don't tell them
this thing, you know, and you can't afford (Inaudible) they'll
appoint somebody for you. You got to understand, now the way I
look at lawyers is, you know probably half the lawyers in this
country graduated in the bottom half of their class. You realize
A: Huh uh.
L: Well you figure you get one that's in a good group like school kids, and one half the group graduates in the top half and the other has to graduate in the bottom right?
L: I guess if the judge thinks it possible, he could award you the class dummy of 1978 for an attorney. If that happens, best I understood they were talking about you can appoint somebody new. Once you (Inaudible) I'm not going to sit here and make you take this test. I came all the way down here, this is my day off. I'm here to help you out of the situation. You don't want something to
go far as serious as this matter.
A: No. (Inaudible)
L: If you're going to be right with me I can help you out. I want you to know, I can't force you to take the test and I wouldn't want to. Matter of fact, if you were being forced to I imagine I wouldn't have had to come all the way down here. If you played football that long then I'm not going to force you into anything anyway.
L: That's right. Just me and you and any time you don't want to say anything, you got a mouth on you and you can close it any time or you can open it. You can do whatever you want to. This is your test, it's not mine, you. I'd have been perfectly happy sleepin (sic) at home.
L: This is your test and it's all up to you.
L: Why don't you look this form over here and sign your name right down there on the bottom line. That don't mean you have [sic] do anything. You understand that. Because I told you all that stuff. (Inaudible) I got one more form here. Now this form here says you're here voluntarily to take this test. It says, uh, the most important part really is that there is no medical reason why you shouldn't take this test today. Have you got anything wrong, have you ever been hospitalized for over two weeks for anything having to do with your brain or your heart or lungs?
(R. at 306-08).
require that an individual be informed of all information 'useful'
in making his decision or all information that 'might . . . affect
his decision to confess.' '[W]e have never read the Constitution
to require that the police supply a suspect with a flow of
information to help him calibrate his self-interest in deciding
whether to speak or stand by his rights.' Here, the additional
information could affect only the wisdom of a Miranda waiver, not
its essentially voluntary and knowing nature. Accordingly, the
failure of the law enforcement officials to inform [the defendant]
of the subject matter of the interrogation could not affect [the
defendant's] decision to waive his Fifth Amendment privilege in a
constitutionally significant manner.
Colorado v. Spring, 479 U.S. 564, 576-7 (1987) (citations and footnotes omitted).
(R. at 3113.)
(R. at 3121.)
findings of fact upon each material issue or element of the claim or defense upon which a new trial is granted. Such finding shall indicate whether the decision is against the weight of the evidence or whether it is clearly erroneous as contrary to or not supported by the evidence; if the decision is found to be against the weight of the evidence, the findings shall relate the supporting and opposing evidence to each issue upon which a new trial is granted; if the decision is found to be clearly erroneous as contrary to or not supported by the evidence, the findings shall show why judgment was not entered upon the evidence.
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