COA upholds battery conviction for altercation outside bar

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a man’s battery conviction Tuesday after finding that he failed to prove any abuse of the Delaware Circuit Court’s discretion.

In Timothy L. Hahn v. State of Indiana, 18A0501603-CR-623, Timothy Hahn and Renee Ruble were seen arguing in a car in the parking lot of a Muncie bar. Doug and Sheila Shaw, who lived nearby and were sitting on their porch with Brandy and Joshua Ireland, told Hahn to stop.

The Shaws then left their porch and Sheila Shaw began to argue with Ruble, who punched Sheila Shaw and knocked her to the ground while Hahn hit Doug Shaw with a purse. Hahn then retrieved a baseball bat from his car and began swinging at Doug Shaw, hitting him four or five times. Doug Shaw suffered injuries to his arm, leg and eyes. Hahn and Ruble returned to their car and left the scene.

Meanwhile, Muncie Police Officer Gregory Skaggs received a dispatch regarding the fight and a description of Hahn’s vehicle. He located the vehicle and attempted to stop Hahn, who initially stopped, then took off and turned twice before stopping again.  

Hahn was arrested for battery and for failing to stop and was charged with Class C felony battery by means of a deadly weapon in September 2013. He requested a speedy trial and was then erroneously released from jail on Oct. 17, but returned Oct. 29.

The same day, the Delaware Circuit Court dismissed the initial cause against Hahn and instead charged him with aggravated battery as a Class B felony, resisting law enforcement as a Class D felony and operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person as a Class A misdemeanor. A public defender was appointed on his behalf on Nov. 14 and a trial was scheduled for Jan. 6. Hahn again requested a speedy trial.

Then on Dec. 30, the state filed for a continuance and requested that Hahn be released from incarceration, and Hahn filed a motion to dismiss. The trial court granted the state’s requests and set a new trial date of April 28. The court also denied Hahn’s motion to dismiss, writing that he did not have recourse under Indiana Criminal Rule 4(B) because he was released on Dec. 30, within 70 days of his request for a speedy trial.

The Delaware Circuit Court then granted the state’s motion to dismiss the OWI charge, alleging that there was a duplicate filing and that Hahn had previously pleaded guilty on that cause. Hahn then filed to dismiss the other two charges against him, arguing that the offenses were based on the same incident as the OWI charge, so he could not be prosecuted under the successive prosecution statute. The trial court rejected that argument.

At trial, Hahn argued that at the time of the fight, he and Ruble were not arguing but that Ruble got out of the car and began arguing with the people sitting on the porch.  Hahn further testified that when he placed himself between Ruble and Sheila Shaw, Doug Shaw swung at him and that any violence Hahn exhibited toward him after that was in an attempt to help Ruble and get into the bar.  Two bottles were also thrown from the front porch, he said.

The court gave a self-defense instruction to the jury, but Hahn was found guilty of aggravated battery and resisting law enforcement, both felonies.  He appealed his battery charge, first arguing that his motion for discharge under Rule 4(B) was improperly denied because the court violated his right to a speedy trial.

But Judge Elaine Brown, writing for the unanimous panel, noted Tuesday that when Hahn’s trial was rescheduled to Jan. 6, 2014, his counsel did not object. Thus, his request for a speedy trial was waived. Further, when Hahn requested a speedy trial for the second time, he abandoned his initial request and the 70-day limit was reset to Jan. 27. Because he was released on Dec. 30, the requirements for Rule 4(B) were met, Brown wrote.

Hahn then argued the Delaware Circuit Court abused its discretion when it denied his motion to dismiss based upon the successive prosecution statute. But Brown wrote that Hahn failed to demonstrate that the OWI charge was related to operating a vehicle after the incident with the Shaws, so he failed to meet his burden to prove that the other two offenses he was charged with should have been charged with the OWI.

Finally, Hahn argued the self-defense jury instruction was an abuse of discretion and his two proposed jury instructions – which dealt with attempt and accomplice liability, placing at least partial blame on the Shaws and the Irelands – would have made it clear to the jury that his actions were justified.  

But Brown wrote that the trial court had informed Hahn that he could make his attempt and accomplice liability arguments through the self-defense instruction, which Hahn’s defense attempted to do. Thus, Brown wrote that the self-defense instruction, taken as a whole, did not misstate the law or mislead the jury.

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