ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE:
SUSAN K. CARPENTER KAREN M. FREEMAN-WILSON
Public Defender of Indiana Attorney General of Indiana
LORRAINE L. RODTS TIMOTHY W. BEAM
Deputy Public Defender Deputy Attorney General
Indianapolis, Indiana Indianapolis, Indiana
SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
HECTOR ORTIZ, )
) Supreme Court Cause Number
v. ) 71S00-0002-CR-73
STATE OF INDIANA, )
APPEAL FROM THE ST. JOSEPH SUPERIOR COURT
The Honorable R. W. Chamblee, Judge
Cause No. 71D01-9808-CF-356
ON DIRECT APPEAL
April 22, 2002
A jury convicted Hector Ortiz of three counts of Class A felony child
molesting, and he pleaded guilty to the status of habitual offender. The
trial court sentenced him to an aggregate term of ninety years imprisonment.
In this direct appeal, Ortiz raises four issues for review which we rephrase
as follows: (1) did the State present sufficient evidence to establish territorial
jurisdiction; (2) did the trial court err in failing to instruct the jury
on territorial jurisdiction; (3) did the trial court err in denying Ortiz motion
to correct error without first conducting an evidentiary hearing; and (4) did the
trial court err in sentencing Ortiz. We affirm the trial courts judgment
but revise the sentence.
On August 13, 1998, then twelve-year-old H.M. and her younger brother were preparing
to walk to a local park when forty-three-year-old Ortiz offered to give them
a ride. Ortiz is the ex-boyfriend of H.M.s mother. H.M. accepted
the offer. However, rather than drive to the local park, Ortiz proceeded
to a park in another location. Approximately ten minutes into the trip,
Ortiz placed his hand on H.M.s leg, told her to remove her shorts
and underwear, and placed his finger in her vagina. Upon arrival at
the park, Ortiz kissed H.M., removed her shirt, and fondled her breasts.
Shortly thereafter, Ortiz proceeded to drive H.M. and her brother back home.
During the drive, Ortiz again told H.M. to remove her shorts and again
placed his finger in her vagina. After arriving at the house, H.M.
remained outside for a few minutes talking with a neighborhood friend. In
the meantime, Ortiz went inside and waited for H.M. in her bedroom.
H.M. entered her home and over her protests, Ortiz told H.M. to remove
her shorts and underwear and sit on the edge of the bed.
He then performed oral sex on H.M. and engaged her in sexual intercourse.
Ortiz was arrested and charged with three counts of child molesting as Class
See footnote Count I concerned the acts occurring in the car, and
counts II and III referred to Ortiz conduct at H.M.s home. Ortiz
also was charged as a habitual offender. After a trial by jury,
he was convicted of the child molesting charges. He then pleaded guilty
to the status of habitual offender. The trial court sentenced Ortiz to
concurrent thirty-year terms on counts II and III to run consecutively to a
thirty-year term on count I. The trial court enhanced count III by
an additional term of thirty years for the habitual offender adjudication. This
appeal followed in due course. Additional facts are set forth below where
Contesting the sufficiency of the evidence concerning count I only, Ortiz contends the
State failed to prove that the act of child molesting occurred in the
State of Indiana. Noting that portions of St. Joseph County border the
State of Michigan, Ortiz argues H.M. did not testify that the crime occurred
in Indiana and the State offered no other evidence from which a rational
trier of fact might infer that the crime was committed in Indiana.
Br. of Defendant-Appellant at 25.
A person may be convicted of a crime in Indiana if either the
conduct or the result that is an element of the offense occurred in
Indiana. I.C. § 35-41-1-1(b)(1). Territorial jurisdiction, which relates to the authority
of the State to prosecute a person for an act committed within the
States territorial boundaries, is not necessarily thought of as an element of the
offense. Nonetheless, we have determined that the State is required to prove
territorial jurisdiction beyond a reasonable doubt. Benham v. State, 637 N.E.2d 133,
138 (Ind. 1994). This is so because where the law has established
the necessity of a certain fact for an accused to be guilty of
an offense, the existence of that fact is treated much like an element
of the offense. McKinney v. State, 553 N.E.2d 860, 863 (Ind. Ct.
App. 1990) (citing McGowan v. State, 267 Ind. 16, 366 N.E.2d 1164, 1165
(1977); Sumpter v. State, 261 Ind. 471, 306 N.E.2d 95, 98 (1974); Young
v. State, 258 Ind. 246, 280 N.E.2d 595, 597 (1972)). Thus, territorial
jurisdiction must be proved by the State beyond a reasonable doubt.
In reviewing a claim of insufficient evidence, our standard of review is well
See footnote We neither reweigh the evidence nor judge the credibility of witnesses.
Warren v. State, 725 N.E.2d 828, 834 (Ind. 2000). Rather, we
consider only that evidence which supports the verdict and all reasonable inferences drawn
therefrom. Id. We will uphold a conviction if there is substantial
evidence of probative value from which a jury could have found the defendant
guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Id.
H.M. testified that Ortiz first molested her within ten minutes of leaving her
See footnote On direct examination officer Jeffrey Giannuzzi testified that from H.M.s home,
traveling the speed limit, one could not leave the State of Indiana in
less than twenty to thirty minutes. On cross-examination the officer conceded the
possibility that a person could travel into the State of Michigan from H.M.s
home within twenty to thirty minutes depending on the route taken. According
to the officer, It could be done. Im not saying that it
couldnt be done. It could be done. R. at 669.
Seizing on the officers cross-examination response and directing this Courts attention to an
area map that was included in the appendix but not introduced into evidence,
Ortiz at one point baldly asserts, At a speed of forty miles per
hour, conservative for much of the distance, Ortiz would have been in Michigan
in twelve and one-half minutes. Br. of Defendant-Appellant at 22. At
another point he says it is a matter of common knowledge . .
. that a person residing in the [community where H.M. lived] can easily
be in the State of Michigan within ten minutes by a variety of
routes . . . .
Ortiz focus on whether a person could cross the Indiana/Michigan border from H.M.s
home in twelve and a half minutes or twenty minutes is quite beside
the point. H.M. testified that Ortiz first molested her within ten minutes
of leaving her home. As for Ortiz assertion that a person residing
in H.M.s community could arrive in Michigan within ten minutes, this is essentially
an invitation for this Court to reweigh the evidence. We decline.
The State presented sufficient evidence to establish that Ortiz molested H.M. within the
territorial jurisdiction of Indiana.
In a related argument, Ortiz complains the trial court failed to give the
jury an instruction on the issue of territorial jurisdiction. This claim is
unavailing. When the asserted error is failure to give an instruction, [A]
tendered instruction is necessary to preserve error because, without the substance of an
instruction upon which to rule, the trial court has not been given a
reasonable opportunity to consider and implement the request. Mitchell v. State, 742
N.E.2d 953, 955 (Ind. 2001) (quoting Scisney v. State, 701 N.E.2d 847, 848
n.3 (Ind. 1998) (distinguishing between failing to give an instruction versus giving an
erroneous one)). Failure to tender an instruction results in waiver of the
issue for review. Acknowledging that he failed to tender his own instruction,
Ortiz attempts to avoid waiver by asserting fundamental error.
The fundamental error doctrine provides a vehicle for the review of error not
properly preserved for appeal. In order to be fundamental, the error must
represent a blatant violation of basic principles rendering the trial unfair to the
defendant and thereby depriving the defendant of fundamental due process. Pope v.
State, 737 N.E.2d 374, 380 (Ind. 2000), rehg denied. The error must
be so prejudicial to the defendants rights as to make a fair trial
impossible. Id. In considering whether a claimed error denied the defendant
a fair trial, we determine whether the resulting harm or potential for harm
is substantial. Id. Harm is not shown by the fact that
the defendant was ultimately convicted. Id. Rather, harm is determined by
whether the defendants right to a fair trial was detrimentally affected by the
denial of procedural opportunities for the ascertainment of truth to which he would
have been entitled. Id.
Although the State must prove territorial jurisdiction beyond a reasonable doubt, that does
not necessarily mean that a defendant is entitled to a jury instruction on
the issue. This point was made clear in McKinney v. State, 553
N.E.2d 860 (Ind. Ct. App. 1990). In that case, the defendant was
charged with murder, but there was a dispute concerning whether the crime occurred
in Ohio or Indiana. After the State had begun to present its
case in chief, the defendant moved to dismiss the charge on grounds of
lack of territorial jurisdiction. The trial court denied the motion, and the
defendant thereafter submitted a jury instruction on the issue. The instruction was
rejected, and the jury convicted the defendant as charged. The Court of
Appeals reversed, determining that the jury should have been instructed on the necessity
of establishing territorial jurisdiction. Id. at 865. Although the case itself
does not explicitly make the point, the Court apparently reached this determination because
the question of jurisdiction was challenged from the very beginning of trial, and
there was conflicting evidence and inferences on the question of jurisdiction. The
Court held [b]ecause the prosecution must prove territorial jurisdiction, the issue must be
submitted to the jury unless the court determines no reasonable jury could fail
to find territorial jurisdiction beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. at 863-64.
Another way to make the same point, and the position this Court endorses
today, is that if there is no serious evidentiary dispute that the trial
court has territorial jurisdiction, then a special instruction on territorial jurisdiction need not
be given to the jury. This view is consistent with those states
that have addressed the issue and submit the issue of territorial jurisdiction to
See, e.g., Colorado v. Cullen, 695 P.2d 750, 751 (Colo.
Ct. App. 1984) (stating that the issue of territorial jurisdiction must be submitted
to the jury with an appropriate instruction if territorial jurisdiction depends upon the
resolution of disputed facts, but there is no error in not submitting the
issue to the jury if the facts overwhelmingly support jurisdiction); Johnson v. Florida,
465 So.2d 499, 504 (Fla. 1985) (holding that it was not necessary to
give a special instruction on territorial jurisdiction when all the physical and circumstantial
evidence indicated that all elements of the offense occurred in Florida with the
only conflicting evidence being defendants bare assertion that the acts took place outside
the state), overruled on other grounds by In re Instructions in Criminal Cases,
652 So.2d 814, 815 (Fla. 1995); Pennsylvania v. Bighum, 307 A.2d 255, 259
(Pa. 1973) (Where the facts overwhelmingly support jurisdiction, it is certainly not basic
and fundamental error not to charge the jury on the issue.), abrogated on
other grounds by Pennsylvania v. Randall, 528 A.2d 1326, 1329 (Pa. 1987).
In this case, there was no serious evidentiary dispute concerning territorial jurisdiction.
Not only was there sufficient evidence to prove the molestations occurred in Indiana,
but also Ortiz never contested jurisdiction at trial. His defense was that
he committed no crime, that H.M. lied under oath, and that H.M.s mother
was angry because he discontinued their relationship. We conclude that no fundamental
error occurred on this issue.
Ortiz filed a motion to correct error with the trial court that included
a supporting affidavit. His sole allegation of error was that he was
denied a fair trial when one of the jurors failed to disclose that
she knew Ortiz and his family and that the same juror at one
time had an adverse confrontation with Ortiz at the jurors place of employment.
The trial court denied the motion in a two-and-a-half page order.
In this appeal, Ortiz does not appear to contest the merits of the
trial courts denial. Rather, he complains the trial court should have conducted
a hearing before ruling on the motion.
This Court has long and consistently held that a trial court is not
required to hold an evidentiary hearing on a motion to correct error.
See Callahan v. State, 527 N.E.2d 1133, 1138 (Ind. 1988); Calhoun v. State,
484 N.E.2d 7, 10 (Ind. 1985); Douglas v. State, 441 N.E.2d 957, 962
(Ind. 1982); Keys v. State, 271 Ind. 52, 390 N.E.2d 148, 151 (1979).
Rather, Criminal Rule 17 and Trial Rule 59(H) contemplate filing affidavits that
set forth sufficient grounds in support of a motion to correct error.
Kindred v. State, 521 N.E.2d 320, 329 (Ind. 1988). The trial court
may then rule on the merits of the motion without the necessity of
an evidentiary hearing. Id. In this case, the affidavit was sufficient
to support Ortiz motion, and the trial court entered its ruling based on
the allegations contained therein. There was no error committed by the trial
court in failing to hold an evidentiary hearing.
Finally, Ortiz argues the trial court erred in ordering his sentences to run
consecutively because it failed to find aggravating circumstances. The State concedes this
In order to impose consecutive sentences, a trial court must find at least
one aggravating circumstance. Jones v. State, 705 N.E.2d 452, 455 (Ind. 1999).
When a trial court imposes consecutive sentences, when not required to do
so by statute, this Court will examine the record to insure that the
trial court explained its reasons for selecting the sentence imposed. Evans v.
State, 727 N.E.2d 1072, 1082 (Ind. 2000). The trial courts statement of
reasons must include: (1) the identification of all significant aggravating and mitigating
circumstances; (2) the specific facts and reasons that lead the court to find
the existence of each such circumstance; and (3) an articulation demonstrating that the
mitigating and aggravating circumstances have been evaluated and balanced in determining the sentence.
Id.; Mitchem v. State, 685 N.E.2d 671, 678 (Ind. 1997); Henderson v.
State, 489 N.E.2d 68, 71-72 (Ind. 1986). When imposing consecutive sentences in
this case, the trial court declared, [I]ts because of the fact that those
sets of circumstances were totally different at the time that those offenses occurred.
And to that extent, it adds insult to the injury. R.
at 843-44. This articulation falls short of the requirement that a trial
courts sentencing statement identify, explain, and evaluate any aggravating circumstances used to impose
consecutive sentences. I.C. § 35-50-1-2; Evans, 727 N.E.2d at 1082.
Upon determining that a trial court improperly applied a justification for enhanced or
consecutive sentences, we are not required to remand for resentencing. Rather, this
Court may exercise its authority to review and revise the sentence. Sanquenetti
v. State, 727 N.E.2d 437, 443 (Ind. 2000). We exercise that authority
here and revise the trial courts sentencing order to provide that the thirty-year
sentences for each count of child molesting run concurrently. The remainder of
the sentencing order is left undisturbed.
We revise the trial courts sentencing order. In all other respects, the
judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
SHEPARD, C.J., and DICKSON, SULLIVAN and BOEHM, JJ., concur.
Ind. Code § 35-42-4-3(a).
Footnote: Ortiz contends it is not his intent to raise an issue
of state sufficiency law. Rather, according to Ortiz, he is alleging a
violation of the Due Process Clause pursuant to
Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S.
307 (1979). However, we have observed that the federal standard articulated in
Jackson is equivalent to the one we routinely employ in reviewing evidentiary sufficiency.
Bethel v. State, 730 N.E.2d 1242, 1243 n.6 (Ind. 2000). Thus,
we review Ortiz sufficiency claim relying on Indiana law only.
As recited in the Facts section of this opinion, Ortiz twice
molested H.M. while in his car: once in route to the park and
again after leaving. Both Ortiz and the State concede only the first
car molestation was charged in this case and is the subject of count
I of the charging information.
Footnote: In some states, territorial jurisdiction is considered a question of law
to be decided by the court.
See, e.g., Connecticut v. Beverly, 618 A.2d
1335, 1338 (Conn. 1993); New Jersey v. Reldan, 449 A.2d 1317, 1324 (N.J.
Super. Ct. App. Div. 1982).
Ortiz talks about the merits of the trial courts order.
However, he continues:
Ortiz is not claiming a right to peremptorily challenge [the juror] or a
new trial due to juror misconduct but the right to an evidentiary hearing
to determine the existence of actual bias. . . . [T]he possibility
of [a biased] juror presents a question of serious error which cannot be
resolved by the trial court properly in the exercise of discretion without an
evidentiary hearing . . . .
Br. of Defendant-Appellant at 44-45.