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Women who dodged orders to appear at trial properly declared unavailable

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a teen’s conviction of felony robbery, finding the trial court did not abuse its discretion in declaring two women unavailable for his trial and admitting their depositions at his trial.

Kevin Davis was charged with Class A felony robbery resulting in serious bodily injury after prosecutors alleged he and another man stopped Kevin Taylor on his bike, attempted to sell him marijuana, and then beat him with a brick when he refused. Taylor’s shoes, money, drugs and bicycle were stolen during the robbery.

Dorothy Davis, Kevin Davis’ biological aunt and adoptive mother, called police the day of the robbery and said a robbery had occurred in front of her house the night before. L.H., a cousin to Kevin Davis, told police that she was home at the time of the incident and identified Davis to the officer as one of the people who beat and robbed Taylor. Dorothy Davis allowed police to search her home, where police found Taylor’s shoes and a bottle of alcohol in the trash. A.D., Dorothy Davis’ daughter, had taken photos of the bloody scene on the cell phone, which she gave to police.

But when it came time for Kevin Davis’ trial, his mother and adopted sister refused to show up in court to testify, despite multiple requests and orders from the court. L.H. took the stand, but said she didn’t remember witnessing the robbery and didn’t remember anything associated with it. She denied identifying Kevin Davis as being involved.

The prosecution moved to admit Dorothy Davis and her daughter’s depositions because they made themselves unavailable for trial. The trial court admitted them over Kevin Davis’ objections and he was convicted as charged.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals agreed that the two women made themselves unavailable for trial so there was no abuse by the trial court to admit their depositions. Dorothy was held in contempt for not appearing, and still did not show up at trial when ordered. When police went to her home, the people inside refused to open the door.

The judges also affirmed the admittance of L.H.’s prior statements to police. As she testified at trial, she was subject to cross-examination concerning her out-of-court statements, and the trial court was free to believe or disbelieve her testimony and assess her credibility.

Kevin Davis also argued there wasn’t sufficient evidence to support his conviction because the testimony admitted of his mother, adopted sister and cousin should not have been admitted, as well as the photos A.D. gave to police.  But L.H.’s statements to police were properly admitted, Taylor made an in-court identification of Davis as the person who started the robbery, and Davis had Taylor’s blood on his shoes and clothing.

The case is Kevin Davis v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1310-CR-523.

 

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