An argument over the wording of the state’s robbery statute gave the Indiana Court of Appeals pause but ultimately did not sway its ruling in affirming a conviction of conspiracy to commit robbery resulting in serious bodily injury.
The appellants in Kenyatta Erkins and Ugbe Ojile v. State of Indiana, 58A01-1205-CR-215, raised multiple issues in their appeal of their convictions for Class A felony conspiracy to commit robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and Class A felony attempt to commit robbery resulting in serious bodily injury.
In particular, Kenyatta Erkins and Ugbe Ojile asserted that the evidence was insufficient to support their convictions for Class A felony conspiracy because the would-be victim was not harmed.
The pair had been watching while the potential victim, S.M., played cards at the Grand Victoria Casino. Although they subsequently talked on their cell phones about how much money S.M. had and about robbing S.M., they never actually robbed the would-be victim.
Early the next morning, Ohio police stopped and searched Erkin’s vehicle. They found dark clothing, camouflage gloves, a roll of duct tape, and a .49 caliber Glock handgun, a BB gun and a .40 caliber cartridge.
Erkins and Ojile were charged and found guilty.
On appeal, the pair contended the evidence was insufficient to support their convictions for Class A felony conspiracy to commit robbery resulting in serious bodily injury. They argued the use of the word “results” in the robbery statute, Indiana Code 35-42-5-1, requires the actual existence of serious bodily injury.
The appeals court noted this is an issue of first impression. The appellants cited no caselaw supporting their argument and the court did not find any cases, either in Indiana or its sister states, that address this issue.
Still, the COA pointed out Erkins and Ojile were not charged with robbery but rather charged and convicted of conspiracy.
The court concluded that the evidence is sufficient to support a conviction for a Class A felony conspiracy to commit robbery where the state establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the co-conspirators intended and agreed to cause serious bodily injury to the victim in perpetrating the robbery.
Accordingly, the COA found an individual could find beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellants intended and agreed to harm S.M. when they robbed him.
The COA, rejecting Erkins’ and Ojile’s argument on the sufficiency of the evidence along with the other arguments they raised, affirmed the pair’s convictions.