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Non life-threatening injury gets aggravated battery conviction reversed

July 28, 2014

A defendant who shot at a car with a semiautomatic rifle, causing a bullet to graze the driver, did not commit Class B felony aggravated battery because the injury inflicted upon the victim did not create a substantial risk of death.

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed one of Bobby Alexander’s convictions for Class B felony aggravated battery in Bobby Alexander v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1207-CR-351. The court concluded Alexander was convicted on the basis of his actions rather than on the basis of the statute which requires the injury to pose the risk of death.

Alexander was charged with two counts of Class A felony attempted murder and two counts of Class B felony aggravated battery after he shot at a car and injured two of the occupants. The passenger suffered significant injuries, but the driver, Ryan Little, sustained a graze wound on his back and did not receive any medical treatment.

Following a two-day trial, the jury found Alexander guilty of two aggravated battery charges but not guilty of the attempted murder charges.

The Court of Appeals agreed with Alexander that the state’s evidence was insufficient to prove that the defendant knowingly inflicted an injury on Little that created a substantial risk of death.

“Indeed, the record before us reveals that the State appears to have been confused on this substantial risk of death element for the Class B felony aggravated battery charge,” Judge Rudolph Pyle wrote for the court. “In both the charging information and the State’s closing argument, the State asserted that it needed to prove that Alexander’s actions of shooting at Little’s car created a substantial risk of death. However, the aggravated battery statute clearly provides that it is the injury inflicted upon the victim – not the defendant’s actions – that must create a substantial risk of death.”

The Court of Appeals remanded with instructions that the trial court enter judgment of conviction for battery as a Class C felony and resentence accordingly.
 

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