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Brother’s previous threat allowed at trial

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The Indiana Court of Appeals concluded Monday that a threat made by a man against his brother a year before the man threw hot water on the brother was properly admitted into evidence during trial.

In Michael R. Sudberry v. State of Indiana, 45A03-1206-CR-298, Michael Sudberry appealed his conviction of Class C felony battery resulting in serious bodily injury committed against his brother Kenneth Sudberry. The two lived at home with their ailing mother and did not get along. The brothers started fighting Aug. 27, 2011, over a seat at the kitchen table during breakfast. They threw water on each other and pushed each other.

Michael Sudberry stabbed his brother with a pencil; his brother then pushed Sudberry. The altercation ended when Michael Sudberry picked up a pot with hot water, threw it on his brother and then pressed the pot against his face. Kenneth Sudberry had second-degree burns on parts of his upper body.

Michael Sudberry didn’t testify at his trial, but his self-defense claim was placed at issue through a detective’s report and a taped statement he gave to the officer. Kenneth Sudberry later testified that on June 29, 2010, after the two brothers pushed each other, Michael Sudberry said “If you push me again, I will kill you.” No other physical altercations happened until the Aug. 27 incident.

“Kenneth testified that there were no physical altercations between him and Sudberry between the date of the threat and the date of the battery. Thus, a reasonable jury could conclude that Sudberry did not have a reason to act on his threat until the date of the battery. Sudberry notes that he did not carry out his threat – he did not kill Kenneth; however, the evidence was undisputed that Sudberry severely injured Kenneth and that Kenneth received assistance only because he managed to call 911 himself,” Judge Terry Crone wrote in affirming that admittance of the evidence of the threat.

The judges also concluded that the evidence admitted rebuts Michael Sudberry’s claim of self-defense.

 

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