Yvonne M. Carter
Deputy Attorney General
Appellant (Defendant below),
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee (Plaintiff below ).
) Supreme Court No.
November 16, 2001
Defendant Camelia Luna was convicted of felony murder after she and two other
women beat and stabbed a man to death and stole his property.
We find the evidence presented at trial sufficient to affirm the conviction.
Defendant, Vasquez, and Casiano played cards with Johnson and gave him alcohol to
get him drunk. At some point in the evening, Casiano went in
the bedroom with Johnson. While Casiano and Johnson were out of the
room, Defendant asked Vasquez to take Johnsons VCR. When Casiano returned, all
three women discussed robbing Johnson to get money for crack cocaine. Defendant
instructed Casiano to lie on the couch with Johnson to distract him and
gave Vasquez a frying pan with which to hit Johnson from behind.
When Casiano was on the couch with Johnson, she signaled Vasquez to come
over and hit him with the pan. As Vasquez hit Johnson, Defendant
and Casiano helped hold him down, and at some point during the beating,
Defendant and took the pan and struck him with it. Defendant also
used knives to stab Johnson.
Next, Defendant looked through Johnsons bedroom drawers and removed electronic equipment and other
items from his house, loading them into the truck that she had parked
near Johnsons door for easy access. Defendant then drove Vasquez and Casiano
to an apartment complex to dispose of the items they had touched.
Afterward, Defendant took them to Chavis Taylors house and helped carry the electronic
equipment into his home. At this time, Taylor noticed that Defendant and
the two other women were covered with blood.
Later that evening, Defendant, Vasquez, and Casiano again went to a friends house
for a few hours where they drank alcohol and smoked more crack cocaine.
Then, after dropping Casiano off at her house, Defendant and Vasquez picked
up their children and found their way to a motel. When Taylor
met them the next day, Defendant confessed to him that they had killed
Defendant was convicted of Felony Murder
See footnote and Robbery, a Class A felony.See footnote
The trial court merged the Robbery conviction into the Felony Murder conviction.
Defendant received a 65-year se
Additional facts will be discussed as necessary.
Defendant was charged and convicted of felony murder. See Ind. Code §
35-42-1-1(2) (A person who kills another human being while committing or attempting to
commits murder, a felony.). A felony murder conviction
requires proof of intent to commit the underlying felony (in this case, robbery)
but not of intent to kill. See Vance v. State, 620 N.E.2d
687, 690 (Ind. 1993). Furthermore, a person is subject to conviction for
felony murder based on accomplice liability for the underlying offense. See Ind.
Code § 35-41-2-4 (A person who knowingly or intentionally aids, induces, or causes
another person to commit an offense commits that offense
According to the evidence presented at trial, Defendant directed the events at Johnsons
house, holding him down as Vasquez hit him with a frying pan, striking
and stabbing him herself, and relevant to her claim here robbing
Johnsons house. She rummaged through the home, searched his bedroom drawers, and
removed electronic equipment and other items, including Johnsons wallet, and placed it all
in a truck she had left by the back door. She also
assisted with the disposal of the items and later confessed to Taylor that
she had been party to Johnsons death.
Defendants claim relies on the supposition that [t]here was no credible testimony that
[Defendant] had any belief beforehand that Vasquez was going to rob or kill
Johnson. (Appellants Br. 11) A jury could reasonably infer from the
above evidence that beyond a reasonable doubt Defendant had the requisite intent to
commit robbery. The jury could further reasonably determine that beyond a reasonable
doubt Defendant participated, either directly or as an accomplice, in the robbery and
murder. The evidence is sufficient to sustain the judgment of the trial
In order for this Court to consider this issue on appeal, the defendant
must have properly objected to the jury instruction
. Mitchem v. State,
685 N.E.2d 671, 674 (Ind. 1997) (citing Ind. Trial Rule 51(C)). If
Defendant failed to make a timely trial objection clearly identifying both the claimed
objectionable matter and the grounds for the objection, the claim of error is
waived. Scisney v. State, 701 N.E.2d 847, 849 (Ind. 1998).
In the present case, Defendant made a timely trial objection and identified the
claimed objectionable matter but the objection did not clearly identify the grounds for
the objection made on appeal that the instruction was an incorrect and
incomplete statement of the law. In fact, Defendant agreed that the instruction
was an accurate statement of the law. As a result, the trial
courts attention was drawn from the potential error in the instruction. We
have stated that counsels providing specific grounds in support of an objection to
an incorrect jury instruction upon a relevant issue
will usually be necessary
to inform the trial and appellate courts. [And] is particularly appropriate when a
trial objection focuses upon the language of a proposed instruction (e.g., when the
objection alleges that an instruction is confusing, misleading, or incomplete). Id. at
848-49. In this matter, Defendant failed to state the ground for her
objection that she now asserts and, as a result, waived her ability to
raise it on appeal.
SHEPARD, C.J., and DICKSON, BOEHM, and RUCKER, JJ., concur.