A Porter County man who shot at four teenagers near his property at night because he claimed they were trying to break into his home is not entitled to a new trial, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.
Donald Gregory Huls appealed his convictions of Class D and Class C felony criminal recklessness. Huls was outside his home around midnight when he began shooting in the direction of four teens walking near his property along a highway on the way to a convenience store. A bullet hit one of the teens in the leg. Even after the teens yelled that they were leaving, he fired again. Huls then called 911 and told the dispatcher he shot at people trying to break into his home.
He claimed on appeal he was entitled to a mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct because during a witness testimony, the state objected to Huls attempting to show the witness a copy of Huls’ statement by saying “the defendant is here to testify.” Huls argued that the prosecutor improperly commented upon his failure to testify in violation of his privileges against self-incrimination.
The Court of Appeals found that the statement was isolated in nature and it didn’t appear that the prosecutor was trying to prejudice the jury to deprive Huls of a fair trial. The judges also affirmed the rejection of Hul’s proposed jury instructions on self defense and the defense of mistake of fact, finding the instructions either incorrectly stated the law on self-defense or weren’t supported by the evidence.
The judges also disagreed with Huls that the evidence at trial showed he shot at the teens because he believed it was necessary to protect himself and his property. The teens never entered his property, he opened fire without identifying his target, and he continued to shoot even after one of the teens shouted at Huls to stop firing and that they were leaving. Police found 14 shell casings on Huls’ property from that night.