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COA upholds domestic battery conviction

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A trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied a man accused of hitting his live-in girlfriend the opportunity to cross-examine her about a past domestic battery incident, the Court of Appeals concluded.

Matthew Manuel faced several domestic battery and battery charges stemming from an incident involving D.S., with whom he lived for eight years and had a child. He also helped raise her child from a previous relationship. When Manuel saw D.S. delete an email on her computer, and she refused to tell him what she deleted, he got angry and hit her on the forehead with a cell phone. They argued and he ended up throwing the laptop on the floor and hit her on the head with it twice before grabbing D.S. and choking her.

D.S. called 911 when Manuel left the home to take their daughter’s computer to his car.

Manuel was convicted of the four charges, which were all merged into his Class D felony domestic battery conviction.

He claimed on appeal the trial court should have allowed him to ask D.S. more about a domestic battery charge in 2005 that was dropped. The state objected because it didn’t know about the specifics of the incident; Manuel argued it was relevant because it related to D.S.’s credibility as a witness. The charges were dropped after D.S. talked to the state, and he wanted to know whether she filed a recantation admitting the abuse never happened. The appellate court concluded that evidence of D.S.’s recantation was precluded under Ind. Evid. R. 608(b).

Manuel also argued the state was improperly allowed to bolster the truthfulness of D.S.’s testimony. The state asked if D.S. had been truthful about what happened in the laptop incident, which came after the defense counsel elicited testimony from D.S. that attempted to impeach her credibility. She gave conflicting answers regarding when Manuel first hit her or whether he went outside during the incident.

“Because the impeachment related to truthfulness, we further conclude that questioning D.S. on re-direct regarding whether she had testified truthfully logically refuted the specific focus of Manuel’s attack,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote. “Thus, the State’s question was properly intended to rehabilitate its witness, rather than bolster her testimony, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the question.”

Finally, the Court of Appeals concluded that the state presented sufficient evidence to support Manuel’s conviction. Even though the two children were not in the same room at the time of the incident, they were present in their bedrooms and one child testified she could hear them arguing and it made her sad. The judges also rejected Manuel’s claim that D.S.’s testimony was incredibly dubious.

 

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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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