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Man who spat in woman’s face loses appeal

April 6, 2017

The Indiana Court of Appeals has confirmed a battery conviction against a man who spat in a woman’s face after finding that minor discrepancies in the charging information and evidence at trial did not undermine the case.

In Donald Anderson, Jr. v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1609-CR-2081, Donald Anderson was at a branch of the Indianapolis Public Library when he began arguing with another library patron whom he thought was looking over his shoulder. He was escorted out of the branch by Laura Johnson, a security officer. As the two were walking through the exit, another patron, Kishawna Hicks, was entering, and Anderson spit in her face as she passed by.

Anderson was charged with Class B misdemeanor battery by bodily waste, and during his subsequent trial, there were some discrepancies regarding the Hicks’ name. While the charging information correctly listed her name as “Kishawna Hicks,” Johnson referred to her as “Tashanna” and Anderson referred to her as “Ms. Ticks.”

Despite those discrepancies, Anderson admitted that he did spit in Hicks’ face and was subsequently found guilty. On appeal, Anderson argued that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions and that there was a material variance between the charging information and the testimony presented at trial.

The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected both of those arguments Thursday, with Judge John Baker writing that Anderson’s sufficiency argument fails because both he and Johnson testified that he had spit in Hicks’ face. Further, Baker wrote that there was “no indication that Anderson would or could have prepared a different defense had the officer said the victim’s name correctly, nor is there any possibility that Anderson will be charged and convicted of spitting at a ‘Tishawna Ticks’ in the future.”

In a separate concurring opinion, Judge Paul Mathias wrote that he agreed with the majority’s opinion, but that he still had ongoing concern about Indiana’s criminal justice system continuing to “turn a blind eye to individuals suffering from mental illness who would be better served by a commitment to a mental health treatment facility… .”

“Based upon the record before us, I believe it is likely that Anderson was suffering from paranoia and/or schizophrenia at the time he committed his offense,” Mathias wrote. “Hoosiers would be better served if person such as Anderson were provided with needed mental health treatment instead of being criminally charged and incarcerated, and this is especially so for a low-level offense such as a Class B misdemeanor.”

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