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Justices find evidence supports intent to commit theft

June 13, 2012

The Indiana Supreme Court upheld a man’s burglary conviction, finding sufficient evidence to support that he broke into the church and entered it with the intent to commit theft.

Michael W. Baker appealed his Class B felony burglary conviction following a trial on the grounds that the state didn’t prove that he acted with the requisite intent to steal from a church. A church member came to the church to pray and let himself in with his key. He discovered a broken window and blood; blood was also found throughout the church, including on several kitchen cabinets and drawers that were open. It didn’t appear that anything was taken from the church. The DNA collected at the scene matched Baker’s DNA.

The Indiana Court of Appeals had reversed his conviction, citing insufficient evidence of Baker’s intent to commit theft. The justices upheld the conviction, finding that the evidence suggesting Baker opened the cupboards and drawers in the kitchen was enough to support a reasonable inference that he entered the church with the intent to steal something.

Looking through the drawers and cupboards is not a necessary step in the act of breaking and entering into the church, but is an additional act that Baker chose to do. The jury could have reasonably concluded that he broke into the church with the intent to commit theft, wrote Chief Justice Brent Dickson in Michael W. Baker v. State of Indiana, No. 89S01-1109-CR-543.

“That there was no evidence that the defendant had rummaged through the drawers or cabinets, as the defendant argues, is of no consequence. The act of opening the drawers and cabinets alone was enough to support an inference of intent to commit theft. Evidence of rummaging would simply bolster the already reasonable inference of intent,” he wrote.

 

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