ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT
Janice L. Stevens
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE
Jeffrey A. Modisett
Attorney General of Indiana
Arthur Thaddeus Perry
Deputy Attorney General
SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
CECIL JENKINS, )
Appellant (Defendant Below), )
v. ) Indiana Supreme Court
) Cause No. 49S00-9905-CR-291
STATE OF INDIANA, )
Appellee (Plaintiff Below). )
APPEAL FROM THE MARION SUPERIOR COURT
The Honorable Mark Renner, Magistrate
Cause No. 49G04-9804-CF-057978
ON DIRECT APPEAL
June 1, 2000
Cecil Jenkins was convicted of rape, criminal deviate conduct, criminal confinement, and of
being a habitual offender. He was sentenced to fifty years for rape
enhanced by thirty years for being a habitual offender, and to a consecutive
three-year term for criminal confinement. He was also sentenced to a concurrent
term of fifty years for criminal deviate conduct. In this direct appeal,
Jenkins contends that the trial court abused its discretion by limiting his cross-examination
of the victim regarding her drug use. We affirm the judgment of
the trial court.
Factual and Procedural Background
On March 20, 1998, R.C. went to meet her brother at a bar
in Indianapolis. After failing to find him, she started toward the
home of a friend on Washington Street. While she was stopped at
a traffic light, Jenkins entered her car, placed an object that she thought
was a gun to her neck, and directed her to be quiet.
Jenkins ordered her to drive to an alley where he pulled out a
knife, told her to remove her clothes, threatened to kill her, and then
Jenkins took money from R.C.s purse, threw her keys in the backseat of
the car, and left. R.C. found her keys, located her brother, and
then reported the incident to the police. Several weeks later, police came
to R.C.s house and showed her photographs from which she identified Jenkins.
At trial, R.C. testified to the events as described above. Jenkins testified
that the encounter was consensual. He claimed that he had met R.C.
earlier when she accompanied a prostitute friend to buy drugs from him.
On the night in question, Jenkins said R.C. stopped her car at the
corner to buy marijuana from him. According to Jenkins, he entered R.C.s
car; they smoked marijuana and drove around together; she attempted to buy twenty-five
dollars of marijuana from him; and they had sexual intercourse. R.C. then
dropped Jenkins off without getting the rest of her marijuana. The jury
convicted Jenkins of rape, criminal deviate conduct, and criminal confinement. Jenkins then
pleaded guilty to the habitual offender enhancement and was sentenced to an aggregate
term of eighty-three years imprisonment.
Right to Cross-Examine
Jenkins claims that he was denied the right of cross-examination when the trial
court did not permit him to question R.C. about her drug use before
the date of the crime. After Jenkins testimony, the State called R.C.
in rebuttal. R.C. testified that she did not smoke marijuana in her
car with Jenkins on the night of the assault and did not have
friends who were prostitutes. Jenkins then attempted to cross-examine R.C. concerning prior
marijuana use to which she had admitted in a deposition. The trial
court ruled that R.C. could be questioned about whether she had smoked marijuana
on the night of the rape because it would have gone to her
ability to recall events, but questioning concerning prior marijuana use would not be
allowed. Jenkins contends that the only issue at trial was the credibility
of Jenkins and R.C. and that the evidence of R.C.s prior drug use
would have diminished R.C.s credibility and enhanced Jenkins credibility.
The right to cross-examine witnesses is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the
United States Constitution and Article I, Section 13 of the Indiana Constitution.
It is one of the fundamental rights of our criminal justice system.
Pigg v. State, 603 N.E.2d 154, 155 (Ind. 1992). However, this right
is subject to reasonable limitations placed at the discretion of the trial judge.
McQuay v. State, 566 N.E.2d 542, 543 (Ind. 1991); accord Delaware v.
Van Arsdall, 475 U.S. 673, 679 (1986) ([T]rial judges retain wide latitude .
. . to impose reasonable limits . . . based on concerns about,
among other things, harassment, prejudice, confusion of the issues, the witness safety, or
interrogation that is repetitive or only marginally relevant.).
Relevant evidence means evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any
fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable
or less probable than it would be without the evidence. Ind. Evidence
Rule 401. Relevant evidence may be excluded if its probative value
is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of issues, or
misleading the jury . . . . Ind. Evidence Rule 403.
This Court has consistently upheld decisions of trial courts excluding evidence of a
witness past drug use as irrelevant. Williams v. State, 681 N.E.2d 195,
199 (Ind. 1997) (collecting cases).
Williams, this Court determined that evidence of a rape victims prior drug
use was not relevant and that the trial court did not abuse its
discretion in limiting the defendants cross-examination of such. Id. The same
is true here. Evidence of R.C.s prior drug use is not relevant to
whether she was raped.
If relevant at all to the highly collateral
issue of whether she purchased drugs from Jenkins, it is clearly outweighed by
the danger of unfair prejudice. The trial court did not abuse its discretion
by limiting Jenkins cross-examination of R.C.s drug use to her use on the
evening of the rape.
The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
SHEPARD, C.J., and DICKSON, SULLIVAN and RUCKER, JJ., concur.
Jenkins further argues that because R.C. had broken the law by using
illegal substances, she was more likely to break the law again and perjure
herself. A witness alleged prior drug use does not make her inherently
more likely to commit perjury. See Williams v. State, 681 N.E.2d 195,
199 (Ind. 1997). Reference to drug use to show a propensity to
perjure is also prohibited by the Evidence Rules. See Ind. Evidence Rule
404(b) (Evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts is not admissible to prove
the character of a person in order to show action in conformity therewith.).
Citing Olden v. Kentucky, 488 U.S. 227 (1988), Jenkins argues that when
the victims credibility is crucial to the States case and cross-examination on a
subject related to the incident is limited, reversal will be required. However,
in Olden, the trial court did not allow cross-examination of an alleged rape
victim concerning her co-habitation, which gave her a possible motive to lie.
Id. at 230. Evidence of R.C.s prior marijuana use would not provide
a motive to lie, but, as in Williams, was justified solely on the
basis of challenging [the victims] credibility. 681 N.E.2d at 199.