ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE
Charles E. Stewart, Jr. Jeffrey A. Modisett
Crown Point, Indiana Attorney General of Indiana
Teresa Dashiell Giller
Deputy Attorney General
SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
CHARLES LESLIE PENDLETON, ) ) Appellant (Defendant Below ), ) ) v. ) Cause No. 45S00-9811-CR-714 ) STATE OF INDIANA, ) ) Appellee (Plaintiff Below ). )Cause No. 45G021-9704-CF-66
APPEAL FROM THE LAKE SUPERIOR COURT The Honorable James E. Letsinger, Judge
September 30, 1999
SHEPARD, Chief Justice.
A jury found appellant Charles Leslie Pendleton guilty of murder and the trial court sentenced him to sixty-five years in prison. Pendleton challenges his conviction on the basis of sufficiency of the evidence. We affirm.
On March 11th, Rudolph Schley was out on a walk at midday and
noticed smoke coming from the roof of a house. Concerned that
someone might be inside, he stepped up to the partially open front
door and shouted that the house was on fire. No one answered, so
he entered the house and shouted again. Schley then saw Pendleton
coming from the direction of the basement stairs. Pendleton seemed
unconcerned about the fire, and when Schley asked whether there was
anyone else in the house, Pendleton said no. Schley noticed that
all of the burners on the kitchen gas stove were turned on, even
though only one had a flame and the food for lunch had already been
cooked. He turned the burners off. Pendleton then left the house,
entered his car parked out front, and "peeled rubber." (R. at 196-
Firefighters and paramedics soon arrived and eventually found
the body of Faith Butler lying in the basement of the house,
"hacked" and partially burned. Extensive head and chest injuries,
the product of cuts and stabs, caused her death. A pathologist
testified that a machete could have caused these wounds.
Subsequent investigation revealed three fires deliberately
set, two in the attic and the other in the basement. The charred
remnants of Pendleton's machete were found in the attic. He had
been observed by neighbors loading it and his other belongings into
his car the day before the murder.
The day after Bulter's death, Pendleton skipped his twenty-
seven-year job at U.S. Steel and drove to see his brother in
Alabama instead. The brother informed the police that Pendleton
said he had killed his girlfriend.
Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the foregoing evidence
largely by seeking refuge in case law which declares that "mere
presence" at the scene of the crime is not enough to sustain a
conviction. See, e.g., Menefee v. State, 514 N.E.2d 1057 (Ind.
We think it plain enough that the evidence established more
than "mere presence." The testimony and tangible evidence
mentioned above, and other testimony we have not recited, was more
than "sufficient evidence of probative value from which the jury
could find all necessary elements" of murder, beyond a reasonable
doubt. Loyd v. State, 272 Ind. 404, 407, 398 N.E.2d 1260, 1264
Accordingly, we affirm the trial court.
Dickson, Sullivan, Selby, and Boehm, JJ., concur.
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