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Woman’s theft, check deception convictions affirmed

May 20, 2015

The Court of Appeals concluded Wednesday that a defendant did not establish that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing her proffered jury instruction or in the admission of pretrial identification evidence.

Erica L. Jackson was convicted of two counts of Class D felony theft and six counts of Class A misdemeanor check deception. The theft charges stemmed from checks she presented to SS Peter and Paul Church, where she purchased bingo cards and received hundreds of dollars of cash in excess of the purchases. The check deception charges relate to small checks she presented at convenience stores. Jackson’s checking account had a negative balance when she presented the checks, which were later dishonored and returned to sender.

In Erica L. Jackson v. State of Indiana, 35A02-1410-CR-770, Jackson challenged the refusal by the trial court to offer her instruction on the lesser-included offense of check deception related to her theft charges. The state argues there was no serious evidentiary dispute, so the trial court did not need to give the instruction.

Jackson did not deny that the acts charged by the state were committed, but she claimed she was the victim of identity theft and someone else was the perpetrator. As there was no controversy regarding whether a lesser offense was committed while a greater offense was not, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by refusing the instruction, the COA held.

Jackson also argued the trial court should have suppressed evidence that Sherry Metz, the owner of the company that ran the bingo game for the church, and Taumara MacDonald, an employee who sold the bingo cards, had each identified Jackson from a photo array. Jackson believed the photo arrays were “unduly suggestive” because they contained jail intake photos of five women and a Bureau of Motor Vehicles photo of Jackson that was a higher-quality, close-up photo as compared to the others.

The COA concluded that the photo array does not lead to the conclusion that the distinction identified by Jackson is critical such as to likely lead to misidentification. In addition, Metz and MacDonald each had an independent basis for in-court identification of Jackson.


 

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