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COA: No error in denying reckless homicide instruction

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The evidence presented at trial did not support a defendant’s request to instruct the jury on reckless homicide as a lesser offense of murder, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

Kendall Johnson was convicted of Class C felony battery and murder in the shooting death of Eric Bell in 2011. Bell came to the home where Johnson and another man were arguing and the three went outside. Witnesses then heard gunshots and found Bell’s body on the ground. He was shot 11 times, including three times in the head and four in the back.

The trial court gave Johnson the advisory sentence of 55 years on the murder conviction and four years on the battery conviction, to be served concurrently.

Johnson argued in Kendall Johnson v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1209-CR-755, that the trial court abused its discretion in declining his jury instruction. Johnson claimed the shooting started out in self-defense, but the trial court pointed out that Johnson shot bell twice at relatively close range, then again while Bell was running away.

“We see no serious evidentiary dispute concerning Johnson’s state of mind when he shot Bell. The State presented two witnesses who testified they heard multiple shots fired. Bell was wounded eleven times … . Johnson admitted shooting Bell twice at close range and continuing to shoot at Bell while running away. Therefore, it reasonably can be inferred Johnson knowingly fired his gun with the intent to hit Bell,” Judge Melissa May wrote.

The judges rejected Johnson’s argument his sentence should be reduced because he acted in self-defense and found that the advisory sentence is appropriate based on his criminal history and the details of this offense.

 

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