ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE:
PATRICIA CARESS MCMATH KAREN M. FREEMAN-WILSON
Indianapolis, Indiana Attorney General of Indiana
ARTHUR THADDEUS PERRY
Deputy Attorney General
SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
QUAN TURNER, )
) Supreme Court Cause Number
v. ) 49S00-0001-CR-37
STATE OF INDIANA, )
APPEAL FROM THE MARION SUPERIOR COURT
CRIMINAL DIVISION, ROOM THREE
The Honorable Cale J. Bradford, Judge
Cause No. 49G03-9812-CF-204921
ON DIRECT APPEAL
November 16, 2000
In this direct appeal Quan Turner contends that his convictions for murder and
carrying a handgun without a license should be reversed because his confession was
involuntary and thus erroneously admitted into evidence. We disagree and therefore affirm.
The facts most favorable to the verdict show that Turner, Jason McGhee, and
others were drinking at several Indianapolis clubs late in the evening on December
26, 1998. The group returned to McGhees residence early the next morning.
Eventually, most members of the group left. However, Turner stayed behind
to confront McGhee about a rumor that McGhee had planned to harm him.
Several hours later McGhee was found dead from a gunshot wound to
Detective Jesse Beavers of the Indianapolis Police Department was assigned to investigate the
McGhee shooting. Relying on a tip, which indicated that Turner might have
been involved, the detective went to the home of Turners sister. Detective
Beavers found Turner asleep on a couch. After he was awakened, Turner
was arrested and transported to the police station. Upon arrival, detective Beavers
read Turner his Miranda rights to which Turner signed a written waiver.
Among other things the waiver dictated: No promises or threats have been
made to me and no pressure or coercion of any kind has been
used against me. R. at 201. Turner then gave a statement
that was recorded on audio tape in which Turner admitted that he and
McGhee got into an argument and I shot him. I panicked and
ran out of the house. R. at 369. Thereafter, Turner was
charged with murder and carrying a handgun without a license. He filed
a pre-trial motion to suppress his statement, which the
trial court denied after a hearing. At trial the statement was introduced
into evidence over Turners timely objection. The jury convicted Turner as charged,
and the court sentenced him to a total term of sixty-six years imprisonment.
This appeal followed. Additional facts are set forth below where relevant.
Turner contends the trial court erred by admitting his taped confession into evidence.
He claims that his confession was involuntary because it was the product
of intrusive and coercive actions by the police. Turner does not contest
the evidence of record showing that he was given his Miranda rights and
that he signed a written waiver. Rather, he complains of alleged police
conduct occurring before those events. Specifically, Turner claims: (1) police had
their guns drawn when they arrested him; and (2) after the arrest, police
yelled at him, called him a liar, and threatened to arrest his mother,
sister, and brother if he did not tell police what they wanted to
When a defendant challenges the admissibility of his statement, the State must prove
the voluntariness of the statement beyond a reasonable doubt. Carter v. State,
730 N.E.2d 155, 157 (Ind. 2000); Schmitt v. State, 730 N.E.2d 147, 148
(Ind. 2000). When a defendant makes such a challenge, the decision to
admit the statement is left to the sound discretion of the trial court.
Horan v. State, 682 N.E.2d 502, 509 (Ind. 1997). In making
its determination, the trial court weighs the evidence to ensure that a confession
was not obtained through inducement, violence, threats or other improper influences so as
to overcome the free will of the accused. Ellis v. State, 707
N.E.2d 797, 801 (Ind. 1999) (quoting Collins v. State, 509 N.E.2d 827, 830
(Ind. 1987)). A trial courts finding of voluntariness will be upheld if
the record discloses substantial evidence of probative value that supports the trial courts
decision. Kahlenbeck v. State, 719 N.E.2d 1213, 1216 (Ind. 1999). This
Court will not reweigh the evidence, and conflicting evidence is viewed most favorably
to the trial courts ruling. Haak v. State, 695 N.E.2d 944, 948
Concerning Turners first claim, we have held that the presence of guns at
the scene of an arrest is not evidence of coercion, but merely cautious
police procedure. Bluitt v. State, 269 Ind. 438, 447, 381 N.E.2d 458,
464 (1978). As for his second claim, Detective Beavers denied raising his
voice to Turner or calling him a liar. R. at 237-38.
He also denied mentioning Turners brother. R. at 237. Detective Beavers
was not questioned about alleged statements concerning any other member of Turners family.
Even though Turners testimony and the testimony of his sister and mother supported
Turners claim that his family was threatened, the trial court was not bound
to credit Turners testimony or the testimony of his family members. See
Warner v. State, 579 N.E.2d 1307, 1310 (Ind. 1991). In any event,
the critical inquiry here is whether the alleged police conduct overbore Turners will,
thus rendering his statement involuntary. Lynch v. State, 632 N.E.2d 341, 343
(Ind. 1994). The fact that Turner signed a waiver of rights weighs
in favor of the conclusion that his statement was indeed voluntary. See
Heavrin v. State, 675 N.E.2d 1075, 1081 (Ind. 1996) (signing a waiver of
rights form provides some indication that a defendants confession was made voluntarily).
We also find persuasive that both in the written waiver and audio-taped interview
Turner acknowledged that he was neither threatened nor coerced into giving a statement.
Turners contrary claim on appeal amounts to an invitation for this Court
to reweigh the evidence. We decline. Thus, the trial court did
not abuse its discretion by admitting Turners statement into evidence.
We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
SHEPARD, C.J., and DICKSON, SULLIVAN and BOEHM, JJ., concur.