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Evidence shows stabbing by inmate wasn’t in self defense

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A Bartholomew County jail inmate had his conviction and sentence for Class B felony aggravated battery upheld Friday by the Indiana Court of Appeals. The judges ruled the evidence disputes his claim that a fight he got into with a fellow inmate was in self defense.

According to the opinion, Matthew Bryant challenged fellow inmate Roosevelt Crowdus to a fight because Bryant believed Crowdus was eating too loudly. The two went to Bryant’s cell where he threw the first punch, but missed. The two began fighting and at one point, Crowdus offered a truce, but Bryant refused. He then grabbed a pencil and stabbed Crowdus in the left ear, causing permanent hearing loss.

The state charged Bryant with Class B felony aggravated battery and claimed he was a habitual offender. He was found guilty as charged by a jury and sentenced to 50 years.

Bryant raised several issues on appeal in Matthew Bryant v. State of Indiana, 03A04-1205-CR-283, including that he was deprived his right to a speedy trial and the trial court abused its discretion in admitting certain evidence.

Bryant filed a motion for a speedy trial and was released two months later on his own recognizance while the trial was pending. He went back to jail because of other pending charges in an unrelated case. His trial for the battery charge occurred beyond the 70-day period that began running on Oct. 26, 2011.

Citing Cundiff v. State, 967 N.E.2d 1026, 1027 (Ind. 2012), the appellate judges found that the trial court didn’t violate Criminal Rule 4(B) as Bryant was released on his own recognizance in this case within 70 days of requesting a speedy trial.

The COA ruled the admission of Detective Christopher Roberts’ account of what Crowdus told him at the hospital about the incident is inadmissible hearsay, but the admission of this was harmless error. The judges also ruled that a recording of Bryant’s telephone call he placed while in jail to a friend was not inadmissible hearsay and the recording was not unfairly prejudicial.

There was sufficient evidence to support the aggravated battery conviction to rebut Bryant’s claim of self defense. Bryant challenged Crowdus to fight in his cell, he threw the first punch and he stabbed Crowdus with the pencil after Crowdus offered to stop fighting. The judges also declined to revise his sentence.  

 

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