COA upholds charges in robbery, assault case

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a man’s robbery, intimidation, rape, sexual assault and other convictions stemming from an October 2013 break-in after it found his convictions did not violate the single larceny and continuous crime doctrines.

Michael Pugh was one of six men who broke into a home on East 79th Street in Indianapolis after seeing an open garage door in the early morning hours of Oct. 28, 2013. A disabled man and his wife lived in the home with their 24-year-old daughter, and all were home at the time the armed men entered the house.

Over the hours that followed, the men raped and sexually assaulted both women and brutally attacked the man. They ransacked the house, stole jewelry, a laptop and cars. They forced the women to withdraw cash from nearby ATMs.

Pugh was charged with 35 counts for rape, criminal deviate conduct, carjacking, robbery, criminal confinement, intimidation and invasion. He was found guilty of 20 of them and had 10 vacated by the trial court. He was sentenced to an aggregate term of 248 years.

Pugh appealed on a number of grounds. He first said the officer who seized him the next day after the robbery did so illegally and did not have proper evidence. However, cell phone records linked Pugh and another accomplice, and it was possible the other accomplice was in the car when Pugh was arrested. The COA also concluded the extent of law enforcement needs was great and the degree of intrusion minimal, so Pugh’s Fourth Amendment and Indiana constitutional rights were not violated.

The evidence was also sufficient to uphold Pugh’s conviction. He provided the transportation and helped load things into the victim’s car. He also helped sell the stolen property and gave a friend a gold watch that the wife in the invasion later identified as hers. Pugh’s number also appeared in another accomplice’s cell phone records, and he was in possession of the gun that was later proved to be used on the wife.

Pugh also argued his three robbery convictions violate the single larceny rule, which provides when several articles of property are taken at one time, it counts as one larceny. However, the property was taken over an extended period of time, in multiple transactions, and from several owners, so the single larceny rule is not applicable, the appellate court held.

Pugh also argued his two rape convictions should count as one offense under the continuous crime doctrine, but the COA said that only applies when a defendant has been charged multiple times with the same continuous offense. These acts were committed separately at different times, and thus can be charged separately.

Pugh also claimed jurors were unjustly biased by watching his reactions to evidence, but the COA said that is not enough evidence to justify a mistrial. The trial court’s holding that there was no resulting prejudice was enough for the case to stand on.

The case is Michael Pugh v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1506-CR-483.

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