Kurt A. Young
Jeffrey A. Modisett
Arthur Thaddeus Perry
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE
Attorney General of Indiana
Deputy Attorney General
Kurt A. Young
Jeffrey A. Modisett
Arthur Thaddeus Perry
the abuse of her corpse. He was sentenced to sixty-five years imprisonment and contests two
issues in this direct appeal. Workman claims that the trial court improperly denied his
motion for a directed verdict and improperly enhanced his murder sentence.
were concerned and attempted to call Lesia at home to see how she was. Workman told
them she was sleeping, but allowed them to talk with Jacob who was crying in the
background. Jacob told the women that my mommy's nose is bleeding. Workman then
took the phone back, told them that was normal when Lesia was sick, and hung up. Lesia's
co-workers called Crouch to express their concern. Crouch twice attempted to call Lesia,
but Workman each time answered and hung up on her. Crouch then called the police.
Approximately ten minutes later, Workman called Crouch and began yelling at her, accusing
her of ruining everything. A police officer had arrived at Workman's home, but when no
one answered the door, the police officer contacted the SWAT team and negotiators.
Several hours later, Workman came out of the house and was taken into custody.
The police found Jacob inside the house and also found Lesia's body, lying face up on the bed, wearing only a short robe that had been pulled apart. Her legs were separated and her hands were under her hips. The police also found a rifle, several spent casings, and a dead cat. Jacob was interviewed by the police and told them that daddy pointed a black thing at my mommy and she got a nose bleed. After daddy pointed a black thing at mommy there was a bang and then a nose bleed. Workman confessed to shooting his ex-wife during the police interrogation and also admitted that he attempted to have intercourse with her body on the morning after the shooting. Workman said he could not go through with it because of the blood on the bed. He did however place his fingers in her vagina. During this interview, he also confessed to killing the cat.
At trial, Workman testified that he had been drinking excessively the day of the
murder and had shot Lesia once, but did not remember firing any other shots. He disclaimed
any memory of doing anything to the corpse or of talking to the detectives about the murder.
Workman waived a jury trial and was convicted of murder and abuse of a corpse in a bench
trial. The trial court sentenced him to sixty-five years imprisonment for murder and three
years for abuse of a corpse, to run concurrently.
Johnson v. State, 653 N.E.2d 478, 480 (Ind. 1995)). Finally, this inference of a crime may
be established by circumstantial evidence. See Sweeney, 704 N.E.2d at 112.
Workman's argument fails for the reason that he confessed to murder as well as abuse of a corpse. [W]here a defendant confesses to several crimes of varying severity within a single criminal episode, strict and separate application of the corpus delicti rule to each offense adds little to the ultimate reliability of the confession once independent evidence of the principal crime is introduced. Willoughby v. State, 552 N.E.2d 462, 467 (Ind. 1990). The confession was admissible without independent evidence of the abuse of the corpse, given that there was ample independent evidence of the principal crime of murder, to which Workman also confessed.
Workman claims that the abuse of corpse and murder were not part of the same criminal episode. There is no case law interpreting the definition of criminal episode in the corpus delicti context, but a recent Court of Appeals decision explained the meaning of criminal episode in the sentencing context. See Flynn v. State, 702 N.E.2d 741, 749 (Ind. Ct. App. 1998). [E]pisode means an occurrence or connected series of occurrences and developments which may be viewed as distinctive and apart although part of a larger or more comprehensive series. Id. (quoting Tedlock v. State, 656 N.E.2d 273, 276 (Ind. Ct. App. 1995)). Indiana Code § 35-50-1-2(b) defines an episode of criminal conduct as a connected series of offenses that are closely related in time, place, and circumstance. We are not convinced that a separation of several hours ends the criminal episode when the defendant is still in the house with the victim's body and is attempting to cover up the crime by calling
co-workers and friends to tell them the victim is sick. The trial court did not err by admitting
evidence of Workman's confession regarding the abuse of corpse charge.
the enhancement of a sentence for one felony due to the facts and circumstances surrounding
the felony. Cf. Poore v. State, 685 N.E.2d 36, 39 & n.3 (Ind. 1997) (act of enhancing a
sentence based on habitual offender finding does not constitute double jeopardy).
Furthermore, the enhancement is proper as a matter of sentencing law. Decisions to enhance presumptive sentences are within the discretion of the trial court and will be reversed only for an abuse of that discretion. See Brown v. State, 698 N.E.2d 779, 781, 783 (Ind. 1998). Even a single aggravating circumstance may be sufficient to sustain an enhanced sentence. Sauerheber v. State, 698 N.E.2d 796, 806 (Ind. 1998) (citing Brown v. State, 667 N.E.2d 1115, 1117 (Ind. 1996)). The nature and circumstances of a crime is a proper aggravator. See Thacker v. State, 709 N.E.2d 3, 10 (Ind. 1999).
During sentencing the trial court listed as aggravators Workman's prior criminal history, the nature and circumstances of the crime including the abuse of corpse and killing Lesia in front of her young child, and Workman's character as shown by his lies to Lesia's co-workers and the police. Workman's prior criminal history is a statutory aggravating circumstance. See Ind. Code § 35-38-1-7.1(b)(2) (1998). The nature and circumstances of the crime including killing a mother in front of her child, abusing the body of the deceased, and killing the cat, is a proper aggravator. Because the trial court found three aggravating circumstances, one of which was statutory, and only one factor may be sufficient to support an enhanced sentence, the enhancement was not error.
SHEPARD, C.J., and DICKSON, SULLIVAN, and SELBY, JJ., concur.
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