COA finds no Brady violation in burglary case

May 23, 2017

The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a man’s conviction for felony burglary, finding the state did not violate his rights by failing to disclose before trial the existence of a wallet discovered during the investigation into the burglary.

After returning home from a birthday celebration at a club in South Bend around 3 a.m. in November 2013, Nancy Medina walked into her house and saw a man, later identified as Antoine Bates, standing in her kitchen. Bates told Medina not to yell, but she called for her husband, Manuel Torres, then ran out of the house.

Bates followed Medina out of the house and Torres pursued him for a short time. During the chase, Medina noticed Bates carrying a Winnie the Pooh diaper bag, which contained baby clothes and a camera, which had been sitting on the kitchen table.

Responding officers discovered a screwdriver used to break into the home, set up a perimeter around the subdivision and eventually apprehended and arrested Bates. Though officers did not find the diaper bag, a subsequent search of the area led to the discovery of a wallet belonging to a man unrelated to the case. Because the wallet was not related to Bates’ case, the officer did not tell Bates about its discovery.

At Bates’ ensuing trial for Class B felony burglary, one of the searching officers briefly testified about the discovery of the wallet. Defense counsel did not ask for a continuance to pursue the matter of the wallet, but instead argued the state’s failure to disclose its existence before trial was a violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).

The Elkhart Superior Court, however, found no Brady violation, and a jury found Bates guilty as charged. He then appealed, once again raising a Brady argument and contending the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.

In a Tuesday opinion, Indiana Court of Appeals Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote Bates’ Brady challenge failed on appeal for two reasons. First, although Bates argued he was unable to question the wallet’s owner, he gave no reason to believe the owner could have offered evidence favorable to him. And despite his argument the state’s late disclosure had prevented him from making such a showing, Bates did not ask for a continuance, Vaidik said.

Further, the appellate panel noted “possession of stolen property supports an inference of intent to commit theft at the time of breaking and entering.” Thus, because Medina testified, and Bates did not dispute, that she saw him running away from her house with the stolen diaper bag, the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction for Class B felony burglary.

The case is Antoine D. Bates v. State of Indiana, 20A03-1612-CR-2896.


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