ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE
Timothy J. Miller Karen M. Freeman-Wilson
Indianapolis, Indiana Attorney General of Indiana
Arthur Thaddeus Perry
Deputy Attorney General
SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
JEFF DAVIS, ) ) Appellant (Defendant Below ), ) ) v. ) 42S00-0003-CR-187 ) STATE OF INDIANA, ) ) Appellee (Plaintiff Below ). )
March 6, 2001
After cutting the phone line, Davis and Geyers son Jesse Ennsmann entered the
home through the same garage door from which Wampler exited. (R. at
592, 597-98.) They carried a flashlight, a bat, and duct tape to
knock the man out and tap[e] him up. (R. at 586-87, 668.)
Davis and Ennsmann looked around the house for money. (R. at 598.)
They ended their search abruptly, after Ennsmann noticed from a window that
Wampler was returning. (R. at 601-02.) They departed the home carrying
three guns they found, but left behind their flashlight and duct tape.
(R. at 602, 668-69.) Wampler later reported the incident and had his
phone line repaired. (R. at 729, 741-44.)
Because of this December burglary, Graydon June Goodwin was house-sitting Wamplers home on
January 7, 1999, while Wampler was in the hospital recovering from a stroke.
(R. at 364, 405, 688.) Two neighbors, Eddie Westfall and
Ed Schrieffer, knew that Goodwin was now taking care of Wamplers place and
decided to go check on Goodwin because no one had heard from [him]
and they were concerned about him. (R. at 364.) Westfall called
Wamplers nephew, Mark Wampler, and asked that he meet them at the farm.
(R. at 392, 403-05.)
After arriving at Wamplers farm, Westfall and Schrieffer went to the side entrance
of the house where they always use to go in, but found out
that the door was locked. (R. at 389-90.) Westfall shined a
flashlight in the window and saw Goodwin lying on the floor. (R.
at 390.) He walked to the front door and noticed it was
ajar. (Id.) He entered the home, looked at Goodwin and then
walked back outside. (Id.)
Westfall tried to use a phone in the barn, but the line was
dead. (R. at 391.) He entered the home again in order
to determine if Goodwin was alive, but found no pulse. (R. at
392.) Westfall and Schrieffer drove to a neighbors home, asked the neighbor
to contact the police, and then returned to Wamplers home, where Mark later
met them. (R. at 392, 407.)
After Westfall told Mark that they found Goodwins body in the house, Mark
contacted Dave Anderson, a crime scene technician with the Indiana State Police, who
instructed him to remain in his truck. (R. at 408, 427, 432.)
On his way to the home, Anderson called the State Police post.
(R. at 433.) Anderson arrived at the home, spoke to Mark
and Westfall and then entered the house only to confirm that Goodwin was
deceased. (R. at 433-35.) Later, detectives and more police officers arrived.
(R. at 435, 701-02, 772-73.)
Detective Greg Winkler of the Indiana State Police was one of those who
arrived. (R. at 700-01.) He did not observe any signs of forced
entry in any of the doors or windows. (R. at 730-31.)
He noticed that a few drawers were open in the kitchen; they appeared
to have been searched. (R. at 732.) He did not see
any sign of a struggle in the home other than how some of
the couch cushions were tossed on the couch. (R. at 733.)
The forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy determined that Goodwins death resulted from
blood loss caused by damage from a gunshot wound to the facial regions
of the head. (R. at 338, 351.) The pathologist also concluded
that the manner of death was homicide. (R. at 339, 351-52.)
A few days later, Geyer made an anonymous phone call to the police
informing them of a conversation that she heard between Davis and Jack Wadsworth
regarding the night of Goodwins death. (R. at 644-46, 703.) Geyer said
that Davis and Wadsworth discussed going and finishing a job and . .
. getting lots of money and stuff . . . .
(R. at 644.) Subsequently Geyer, Ennsmann and Davis admitted their involvement with
the December burglary. (R. at 639, 648-49, 592-602, 723, States Exh. 138.)
The State charged Davis with burglary and theft for his involvement regarding the
events on December 16, 1998. It also charged felony murder, burglary and
theft in relation to the events that occurred on January 7, 1999.
The trial court returned guilty verdicts on all counts. The court merged
the burglary and theft counts into the felony murder count with a sentence
of fifty-five years. It also sentenced Davis to fifteen years for the
December 16th burglary and a concurrent term of three years for the December
16th theft. The net result was seventy years.
When reviewing convictions for sufficiency of the evidence, we look to the evidence
most favorable to the verdict and all of the reasonable inferences that evidence
provides. Baker v. State, 273 Ind. 64, 402 N.E.2d 951 (1980).
We do not reweigh the evidence or determine the credibility of witnesses.
In addressing an insufficiency claim, we determine whether there was substantial probative evidence
to support the judgment. Id. If a reasonable trier of fact
could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, we will affirm
the decision of the trial court. Case v. State, 458 N.E.2d
223 (Ind. 1984).
To prove burglary as charged, the evidence must show that Davis did knowingly break and enter into Wamplers home with an intent to commit a felony in it (in this case, theft). See Ind. Code Ann. § 35-43-2-1 (West 1998). The element of breaking is satisfied by showing that even the slightest force was used to gain unauthorized entry. Trice v. State, 490 N.E.2d 757 (Ind. 1986). Opening an unlocked door or pushing a door that is slightly ajar constitutes a breaking. Utley v. State, 589 N.E.2d 232 (Ind. 1992), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 1058 (1993). The occurrence of a breaking may be proven entirely by circumstantial evidence. McCovens v. State, 539 N.E.2d 26 (Ind. 1989).
Davis asserts that the State did not present testimony nor direct evidence of
a breaking. (Appellants Br. at 7.) He argues that the evidence
is sufficient only to conclude that he and Wadsworth scheme[d] to get Goodwin
to open an outer door to the house and allow one of them
to sneak in without having to break in. (Appellants Br. at 8.)
Our inquiry on appeal is not whether a trier of fact may have
accepted the version of events proposed by Davis. Rather, we determine whether
the verdict is supported by an inference reasonably drawn from the evidence presented.
We conclude that it was.
We have encountered other cases in which there was no overt physical sign
of a forced entry. In Utley, for example, a woman and her
child were found murdered in their home, on the floor of the bedroom.
589 N.E.2d at 241. The victims husband testified that the doors
to the home remained locked and were locked when he left the home
on the day of the murder. Id. He also testified that
the victim would not open the door for a stranger. Id.
When the victims body was found, the rear door of the home was
unlocked. Id. We found this evidence sufficient, saying, From this testimony
one could infer that force was used to gain entry without the victims
Similarly, in this case the State presented circumstantial evidence that Goodwin would not
have permitted Davis to enter Wamplers home. The evidence revealed that the
home was burglarized on December 16, 1998, after a stranger lured Wampler away
from his home. Wampler reported the incident to the police and informed
his friend Goodwin. In his statement, Davis admitted that he planned and
participated in the first burglary.
On January 7, 1999, while Wampler was in the hospital, Goodwin stayed at
Wamplers home in order to guard against another burglary attempt. His stepdaughter
testified that Goodwin planned to sleep on the couch with a gun next
to him. (R. at 659, 673.) Goodwin was prepared to confront
any stranger who got into the house. Davis and Wadsworth were strangers
Goodwins body was found, with a flashlight under his arm, near the couch.
(R. at 441.) The front door of the room was ajar
and the door to the garage was locked. Testimony revealed that when
Goodwin let visitors into Wamplers home, he let them in through the door
near the garage. (R. at 682.)
Davis admitted in his statement that he was in Wamplers home when his
friend Wadsworth shot Goodwin in the head. Davis also admitted that after
Goodwin was shot, he left the home and came back a few times.
(R. at 723, States Exh. 138.)
As in Utley, this evidence allowed a reasonable inference that Davis entry was
unauthorized. Moreover, we think it implausible that a man occupying a home
solely to guard against entry of potential burglars would willingly let two strangers
in the front door.
Consequently, the evidence was sufficient to convict Davis of burglary. Because Davis
murder charge was based upon the commission of burglary and accomplice liability for
the death of Goodwin, the evidence was also sufficient to convict him of
Dickson, Sullivan, Boehm, and Rucker, JJ., concur.