ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE
Jerry J. McGaughey Jeffrey Modisett
Vincennes, IN Attorney General of Indiana
Christopher L. LaFuse
Deputy Attorney General
SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
JEFFREY SCOTT MORRISON, ) ) Appellant (Defendant below ), ) ) v. )Cause No. 42SOO-9605-CR-392 ) STATE OF INDIANA, ) ) Appellee (Plaintiff below ). )
SHEPARD, Chief Justice.
murder, a felony,
and battery, a class B misdemeanor.
also found Graziano guilty of murder. The court sentenced Morrison
to sixty-five years in prison for murder, with a 180-day
concurrent sentence for battery.
Morrison raises two issues:
2) Whether the trial court abused its discretion by
finding the absence of certain physical evidence
looking for another place to stay. While at the bar, Steven Tatum,
an acquaintance of Graziano's, offered MacKinnon and Jake lodging
at his apartment. Bilskie later took MacKinnon, Jake, Tatum,
Graziano, and Morrison to Tatum's apartment.
Soon after arriving at Tatum's apartment, Morrison, Graziano,
and Bilskie departed. MacKinnon, who was Graziano's girlfriend,
remained at Tatum's with Jake. Tatum made sexual advances toward
MacKinnon. When she declined his invitations, he grabbed her
wrists. She pulled away from him, and she and her son quickly left
the apartment. The two wandered the street until a concerned
neighbor took them into his home. MacKinnon later saw Morrison
pass in front of the house, and she relayed to him what happened at
Tatum's apartment. MacKinnon and Morrison then went to Tatum's,
where Morrison beat Tatum. Afterward, Morrison and MacKinnon took
Jake to Bilskie's apartment.
Graziano was already at Bilskie's when Morrison and MacKinnon
arrived. After hearing MacKinnon's story of her encounter with
Tatum, Morrison and Graziano decided to go to Tatum's apartment and
beat him further. Before they left, MacKinnon gave one of them a
gun which she had previously taken from her stepfather.See footnote
In his apartment, Tatum confessed to Morrison and Graziano
that he had made advances toward MacKinnon. Graziano struck Tatum
in the face, knocked him to the floor, kicked him several times,
and dragged him by the hair into the bedroom. Graziano then shot
Tatum in the knee, and one of the two defendants shot Tatum twice
in the head. Tatum died of multiple blunt injuries and multiple
gunshot wounds. Over the next few days, Morrison and Graziano
admitted to several individuals that they beat and shot Tatum, and
the State charged them both with murder and battery. Both Morrison
and Graziano claim the other one fired the fatal shots.
Morrison argues that the trial court erred by limiting his
cross-examination of Graziano regarding this agreement and by
excluding the written agreement from evidence because exclusion of
this matter misled the jury and violated his right to a fair trial.
The trial court did not err. This Court has long held that beneficial agreements between an accomplice and the State must be revealed to the jury. Morgan v. State, 275 Ind. 666, 419 N.E.2d 964 (1981); Newman v. State, 263 Ind. 569, 334 N.E.2d 684 (1975). This rule serves to help the jury better assess the reliability and honesty of the felon-witness. Lewis v. State, 629 N.E.2d 934, 937 (Ind Ct. App. 1994)("The jury should have the evidence related to any consideration a felon-witness receives in exchange for testifying on behalf of the State").
Here, the State did not extend any consideration to Graziano,
because Graziano did not pass the polygraph examination and thus
secured no consideration from the State. As a result, there was no
deal to disclose to the jury. The trial court's decision to limit
Graziano's testimony was not an abuse of discretion. Likewise,
there was no need to submit the written agreement into evidence.
Graziano was charged with murder and tried jointly with
Morrison. With Graziano facing the possibility of sixty-five years
in prison, the jury was well-aware that Graziano had a powerful
incentive to lay all the guilt on Morrison. The rule requiring
disclosure of beneficial agreements serves to alert the jury to a
witness's credibility, or lack thereof. The jury needed little
on two occasions: first when he initially beat Tatum and, second,
when Tatum was killed.
Morrison's defense thus boils down to an assertion that
Graziano fired the fatal shots. Morrison argues that Graziano's
testimony is the only evidence regarding his conduct in Tatum's
apartment before and during the murder of Tatum. Whether Morrison
fired the fatal shots is immaterial to his guilt, however, because
an individual who aids another person to commit a crime is as
guilty as the actual perpetrator. Pike v. State, 532 N.E.2d 3
(Ind. 1989). "A person may be convicted as a principal upon
evidence that he or she aided or abetted in the perpetration of the
charged crime. There is no separate crime of being an accessory to
a crime or aiding and abetting its perpetrator." Taylor v. State,
495 N.E.2d 710, 713 (Ind. 1986). The court's limitations on this
cross-examination were not an abuse of discretion.
Dickson, Sullivan, Selby, and Boehm, JJ., concur.
Converted from WP6.1 by the Access Indiana Information Network