ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT
Terrance W. Richmond
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE
Attorney General of Indiana
Joseph A. Samreta
Deputy Attorney General
SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
RONALD PIERCE, )
Appellant (Defendant Below), )
v. ) Indiana Supreme Court
) Cause No. 49S00-0010-CR-575
STATE OF INDIANA, )
Appellee (Plaintiff Below). )
APPEAL FROM THE MARION SUPERIOR COURT
The Honorable Diane Marger Moore, Magistrate
Cause No. 49G06-9907-CF-124582
ON DIRECT APPEAL
January 29, 2002
Ronald Pierce was convicted of criminal deviate conduct, robbery, resisting law enforcement, and
being a habitual offender. He was sentenced to one hundred years imprisonment.
In this direct appeal, he contends that (1) the trial court abused
its discretion in admitting his confession; (2) the trial court erred in failing
to grant a mistrial; and (3) there was insufficient evidence to support his
convictions. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
Factual and Procedural Background
On July 15, 1999, ninety-one-year-old F.K. was in her home alone when an
object shattered her window. A man masked by a bandana entered, threw
her to the floor, and engaged in criminal deviate conduct. He then
took money from her purse and several items from upstairs. The man
left on a blue bicycle.
F.K. called the police and gave a description of her attacker. Officer
Lappin heard the description over his radio and saw Pierce riding a blue
bicycle three blocks from F.K.s house. When Lappin activated his lights, Pierce
attempted to flee. Lappin pursued Pierce and eventually apprehended him after Pierce
had abandoned his bicycle and attempted to flee on foot. The police
found a bandana in Pierces pocket. The missing items were later discovered
in a yard a few blocks from the scene of the crime.
A few days later, police questioned Pierce. Pierce was advised of his
rights and executed a waiver of rights form. He eventually confessed to
the crimes. Pierce filed a motion to suppress the confession before trial,
which was denied. At trial, a redacted version of the confession was
admitted. During deliberations, the jury notified the trial court that one of
the jurors had gone to the scene of the crime. After questioning
the other jurors, the trial court admonished the jury and excused the investigating
juror. Pierce was found guilty of criminal deviate conduct, robbery, confinement, battery,
resisting law enforcement, and being a habitual offender. He was sentenced to
fifty years for criminal deviate conduct enhanced by thirty years for being a
habitual offender. This sentence was ordered to be served consecutively with twenty
years for robbery and concurrently with three years for resisting law enforcement.
Pierce was not sentenced on the confinement and battery convictions.
I. Pierces Confession
Pierce first challenges the admission of his confession because it was involuntary and
coerced, and obtained by the police officers lies, deception, and brainwashing and in
which Pierce asked the questioning be stopped until the DNA results were received.
Pierce filed a pretrial motion to suppress the confession. The record
is incomplete but apparently the motion was denied. At trial, Detective Vincent
Burke of the Indianapolis Police Department testified that he conducted an interrogation of
Pierce, in which Pierce confessed and when he confessed he, basically, told us
what happened. There was no objection to Burkes testimony. In cross-examining
Burke, Pierce asked a number of questions about the interrogation and confession.
These included inquiries into the location of the interrogation, the number of police
officers present, the length of the interrogation, and the questions asked of Pierce
and his answers. The State claims that, under these circumstances, Pierce failed
to preserve his objection to the admission of the confession. Pierce claims
that he did object to the evidence. We need not resolve the
waiver issue because we conclude that the confession was admissible.
The trial courts ruling as to the voluntariness of a confession is sustained
if it is supported by substantial, probative evidence of voluntariness.
State, 682 N.E.2d 502, 510 (Ind. 1997). We do not reweigh the
evidence. Id. After an officer read Pierce his rights, and Pierce
signed a waiver form, Pierce gave a two-and-one-half hour confession, which was taped.
As evidence of coercion and threats by police, Pierce points to various
interrogation techniques, including good cop, bad cop, providing a morally acceptable answer, blaming
the victim, and bargaining. The trial court made detailed findings on this
issue after listening to argument on the day of trial. The determination
that Pierces statement should be admitted is supported by substantial evidence and is
consistent with precedent.
Pierce claims that the police talked about the prosecutor giving him a deal.
Statements by police expressing a desire that a suspect cooperate and explaining
the crimes and penalties that are possible results are not specific enough to
constitute either promises or threats.
Massey v. State, 473 N.E.2d 146, 148
(Ind. 1985). As in Massey, Pierce was not subjected to any lengthy
interrogations and there is no evidence of any physical abuse or coercive action
by the police which logically would have misled defendant or overborne his will
in regard to his voluntary statement. Id.; accord Roell v. State, 438
N.E.2d 298, 300 (Ind. 1982) (confession was admissible where officers did not threaten
or mislead defendant). Nor is the use of the good cop, bad
cop interview technique in itself a basis for exclusion of a confession.
See, e.g., Houser v. State, 678 N.E.2d 95, 102 (Ind. 1997).
also argues that [o]ne can clearly see the intent of the interrogation was
to get a confession from Pierce. This may be true, but that
objective does not amount to brainwashing or render Pierces confession involuntary.
Pierce argues that police deception contributed to making his confession involuntary. The
police told Pierce that they had preliminary DNA evidence linking him to the
crime. The State concedes that this claim was false. As this
Court has noted, police deception does not vitiate a Miranda waiver and render
a confession inadmissible, but is rather one consideration that must be viewed in
determining the totality of circumstances.
Willey v. State, 712 N.E.2d 434, 441
(Ind. 1999). In Carter v. State, the defendant argued that his confession
was involuntary due to police deception and his intoxication. 490 N.E.2d 288,
290-91 (Ind. 1986). This Court held the confession properly admitted where the
defendant had been fully advised of his Miranda rights, indicated his understanding of
them, was a mature individual of normal intelligence, and was not interrogated for
any inordinate amount of time. Id. at 291. The same
is true here.
Pierce is correct that police deception, in this case the false claim of
a DNA match, weighs against voluntariness.
Henry v. State, 738 N.E.2d 663,
665 (Ind. 2000). But that factor is not dispositive. The trial
court concluded that the totality of the circumstances did not vitiate Pierces waiver
of rights or render his confession involuntary. Pierce signed a waiver of
rights and indicated that he understood his rights, Pierce did not ask for
an attorney, and he was not intoxicated. No threats or force were
used. There is substantial evidence supporting the trial courts admission of Pierces
confession as voluntary. Kahlenbeck v. State, 719 N.E.2d 1213, 1216-18 (Ind. 1999).
Pierce claims that the trial court erred in twice denying a motion for
a mistrial during the trial. The decision to grant or deny a
motion for a mistrial lies within the discretion of the trial court.
Heavrin v. State, 675 N.E.2d 1075, 1083 (Ind. 1996). A mistrial is
an extreme remedy granted only when no other method can rectify the situation.
Id. On appeal, in order to succeed from the denial of
a mistrial, the defendant must demonstrate that the conduct complained of was both
error and had a probable persuasive effect on the jurys decision. Jackson
v. State, 728 N.E.2d 147, 151 (Ind. 2000); Kelley v. State, 555 N.E.2d
140, 141 (Ind. 1990).
Pierce first argues that a mistrial should have been granted when the trial
court admitted a redacted version of Pierces statement because all references to Pierces
prior bad acts were not removed from the statement. The State and
Pierce had agreed to redact references to other pending charges. Redactions were
made and the document was presented to the court. At that point
Pierce was given an opportunity to suggest further revisions and suggested one change.
The trial court then gave the transcript to the jury. Although
this was a lengthy transcript, it was Pierces obligation to notify the trial
court of any errors before the jury read the transcript. Because he
was given an opportunity to challenge the redacted transcript and he did not
do so, Pierce has waived this issue. Cf. Whittle v. State, 542
N.E.2d 981, 985 (Ind. 1989) (defendant waived claim where the trial court presented
him with the opportunity to raise any potential conflict of interest, but no
objection to joint representation was made), overruled on other grounds by Scisney v.
State, 701 N.E.2d 847 (Ind. 1998).
B. Juror Misconduct
Pierce also claims that the trial court erred by denying a mistrial when,
during deliberations, the jury sent a note to the trial court stating that
one of the jurors, Maynard, had driven by the victims home to look
at a street light. The trial court brought the jury out for
questioning. The remaining jurors told the trial court that they stopped Maynard
from telling them anything more than the fact that she had driven by
the site of the crime. The trial court asked the jury if
this information would affect deliberations and all denied that it would. The
trial court then questioned each juror individually on whether he or she could
disregard Maynards report. All agreed they could. The trial court then
dismissed Maynard and asked Pierce if he would like an additional admonishment.
The trial court took great care to deal with a difficult situation and
there is no showing of any prejudice to Pierce. Under these circumstances,
the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying his motion.
Jackson, 728 N.E.2d at 151.
III. Sufficiency of the Evidence
Pierce finally contends that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions.
He bases this contention on the fact that the majority of the evidence
is circumstantial and claims that the State did not prove he attacked F.K.
When reviewing a claim of sufficiency of the evidence, we do not
reweigh the evidence or judge the credibility of witnesses. Spurlock v. State,
675 N.E.2d 312, 314 (Ind. 1996). We look to the evidence and
the reasonable inferences therefrom that support the verdict and will affirm a conviction
if evidence of probative value exists from which a jury could find the
defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. Circumstantial evidence will be
deemed sufficient if inferences may reasonably be drawn that enable the trier of
fact to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Franklin v.
State, 715 N.E.2d 1237, 1241 (Ind. 1999).
There is sufficient evidence to support Pierces convictions. He confessed to breaking
into F.K.s house, putting his penis between her legs, and taking her property.
Although her attacker was wearing a bandana and F.K. could not identify
him, she testified that a man broke into her house, inserted his penis
into her rectum, and stole items from her house. Her testimony was
corroborated by physical evidence, including a torn rectum and sperm found in her
rectum. She testified that the perpetrator rode off on a blue bicycle.
Police found Pierce three blocks from F.K.s house shortly after the attack
on a bicycle. He attempted to escape from the police, first on
the bicycle and then on foot. Pierce matched F.K.s general description and
had a bandana in his pocket. This was sufficient evidence to convict
Pierce of criminal deviate conduct, robbery, and resisting law enforcement. Pierce presents
no challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence with respect to his habitual
The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
SHEPARD, C.J., and DICKSON, SULLIVAN, and RUCKER, JJ., concur.
Pierce also claims that he asked the police officers to stop the
interrogation, but they continued to question him. He does not provide a
citation to the transcript. The closest thing we can find to a
request to stop the interrogation is me and you stops right there.
This statement is immediately preceded and followed by admission of various crimes, all
in the course of a dialog. It does not appear to be
a request to stop the interrogation, and certainly is not a clear request.