Because the state relied on the same evidence to convict a Marion County man of three domestic battery or battery charges, the Indiana Court of Appeals vacated two misdemeanors. The judges also found no fundamental error in his sentencing or by the prosecutor during trial.
In Shiloh Jones v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1202-CR-74, Shiloh Jones appealed his convictions of Class D felonies domestic battery and criminal confinement, and Class A misdemeanors domestic battery and battery, as well as his 730-day sentence in the Department of Correction. The charges stem from a four-hour incident involving Jones and his girlfriend where he slapped and bit her, choked her, poured baby formula on her face and did not allow her to leave the home. Their two infant children were home at the time.
Jones was initially sentenced by Marion Superior Commissioner John Boyce, who presided over the trial, to two years on each felony count and one year on each misdemeanor count, with all sentences served concurrently. He was to serve one year in the DOC, six months on community corrections and six months on probation. But the court had to address a probation violation from a previous conviction, which led to Marion Superior Judge Barbara Collins resentencing Jones to the same length of sentence – 730 days, but all executed in the DOC.
The Court of Appeals reversed Jones’ misdemeanor battery and domestic battery convictions because the state used the same general terms to charge him with the three counts. The judges ordered the misdemeanor convictions and sentence vacated. They did not find, as Jones had argued, any double jeopardy violations regarding his criminal confinement conviction.
Jones argued that fundamental error occurred when Collins resentenced him and based on comments the prosecutor made saying that the girlfriend was telling the truth about the domestic battery incident. Collins did not increase Jones’ original sentence, but only required he serve its entirety in the DOC instead of having some probation or community corrections. This does not constitute fundamental error, Judge James Kirsch wrote, as the grant of probation is a favor and not a right.
With regards to the prosecutor’s statements, the appellate judges pointed out that Jones’ defense strategy was to challenge his girlfriend’s testimony was truthful. The woman’s credibility was at issue and both sides had their say on the matter, so the prosecutor’s statements did not place Jones in a position of grave peril nor deny him a fair trial, the judges held.