COA affirms convictions in Tippecanoe County robberies

A Tippecanoe County man’s numerous robbery, criminal confinement and firearm convictions have been affirmed after the Indiana Court of Appeals found Thursday that the trial court did not abuse its discretion throughout the conviction and sentencing process.

After agreeing to commit a robbery in November 2014, Jacob Lumbley began collecting sweatshirts and masks to hide his identity, then, along with accomplices, stole money and merchandise from a Speedway in Tippecanoe County. During the robbery, Lumbley pointed a Ruger handgun at the clerk, confined him at gunpoint and took his cell phone so he could not call police.

A few days later, Lumbley committed a similar crime in a similar fashion at a Village Pantry, once against threatening and confining the clerks at gunpoint. Lumbley was eventually arrested and charged with various felony and misdemeanor counts, including robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, criminal confinement and possession of a firearm with a prior felony conviction, among others.

After the Tippecanoe Superior Court denied his motion to suppress, Lumbley pleaded guilty as charged and specifically confessed to confining the clerks with a firearm. Lumbley was sentenced to an aggregate 35 years in the Indiana Department of Correction, serving several consecutive sentences for his various charges.

On appeal in Jacob Lumbley v. State of Indiana, 79A02-1604-CR-798, Lumbley first argued that the trial court had erred by enhancing his criminal confinement convictions based on his use of a firearm. But Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Elaine Brown wrote Thursday that Lumbley’s argument that he did not “use” the firearm was a challenge of the factual basis for his guilty plea, which Brown said was not properly before the appellate court.

Lumbley further argued that the trial court erred in ordering him to serve consecutive enhanced criminal confinement sentences, but Brown wrote in the unanimous opinion that the firearm enhancements “do not have the special and distinct dimensions of habitual offender enhancements and are similar to the finding of aggravate circumstances for separate offenses.” Further, Brown said Indiana Code section 35-50-2-11(i) shows that the Legislature intended for enhancements to support consecutive sentences.

Finally, Lumbley said his convictions of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery violate the double jeopardy clause of the Indiana Constitution. The appellate panel also rejected that notion, with Brown writing that a person who pleads guilty can only challenge their convictions through a petition for post-conviction relief. Further, considered on its merits, Lumbley’s argument fails because “the offenses of conspiracy and the robberies could have been established by ‘separate and distinct facts,’” Brown wrote.

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