A man convicted of stealing a car and fleeing police will not have his convictions reversed after the Indiana Court of Appeals found Friday that there was enough evidence to infer he was guilty of the charges against him.
After Kelly Poyck reported her silver 2002 Chevrolet Prizm stolen in April 2015, an acquaintance spotted the stolen vehicle in a bank parking lot six days later and called the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. When Officer Aaron Helton responded to the scene, two men were exiting the car. One of the men fled the scene, while the other, Mickel Thacker, walked toward the bank.
Although Helton initially pursued Thacker’s companion, he spotted Thacker near the bank entrance and was able to arrest him. After a bench trial, the Marion Superior Court found Thacker guilty of Level 6 felony auto theft and Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement.
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed his convictions in Mickel Thacker v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1510-1563. Judge Melissa May wrote for the panel that Poyck had testified to her car being stolen and that Helton saw Thacker in the driver’s seat, which is enough evidence to permit a reasonable inference that Thacker was in possession of the stolen vehicle. However, May also wrote that the court agreed with Thacker’s argument that because six days passed between Poyck’s report and Thacker’s arrest, Thacker’s possession of the vehicle was not enough to prove auto theft.
But Poyck testified that the only damage to her car before the theft was a small dent, while the damage after the fact included a “busted out” window, a damaged door and a ripped-off gas cap. The state showed evidence to the court of what appeared to be pry marks around the window that had been broken, and Poyck further testified that the gas cap had likely been ripped off because the thieves couldn’t find the lever.
Those facts, together with the fact that Thacker and his accomplice had attempted to flee when police arrived, would be enough to permit a factfinder to infer that Thacker knew he was exerting unauthorized control over the vehicle and, thus, affirm his auto theft conviction, May wrote.
In regard to his resisting law enforcement charge, Thacker argued he did not flee from Helton but instead did not hear the officer tell him to stop. May wrote that such a claim was a request for the appellate panel to reweigh evidence, which it cannot do.
Further, May noted that when Helton approached Thacker, he was in a marked police car, had activated his emergency lights and had sounded the siren a couple of times. Additionally, Helton testified that he had jumped from the car with his gun drawn and had yelled, “Stop, police” within 15 to 20 feet of the two men. That evidence was also sufficient for a factfinder to conclude that Thacker knowingly fled from police, May wrote. Thus, his resisting law enforcement conviction was also affirmed.