COA tosses two convictions against man who drove into gas pumps

A man who intentionally drove a vehicle into gas pumps during an argument with his son will have two of his convictions thrown out after the Indiana Court of Appeals determined those convictions were based on the same evidence as other similar convictions and, thus, violated double jeopardy.

After drinking alcohol with his son, Daniel, and a friend, Charles Patterson, one night in March 2014, Kevin Henson drove his son’s car, with both men in the car, to go and buy cocaine. Henson and Daniel had been arguing all night and continued their argument while in the car.

Henson then began speeding down the street while Patterson “pleaded for (his) life” and begged Henson to let him out of the car. Henson refused and instead continued in his argument with Daniel and intentionally drove recklessly to scare his son. He was driving roughly 60 miles per hour when he crashed into some gas pumps and caused explosions.

Daniel and Patterson were ejected from the car while Henson, who was later found to have a blood alcohol content of .22, had to be extricated. Patterson suffered severe injuries to his head and face that required reconstructive surgery, while Daniel sustained injuries to various parts of his body. A customer at the gas station was also burned in the explosions.

The Wayne Superior Court entered judgment of conviction against Henson on three counts of Class C felony battery; four counts of Class D felony criminal recklessness; Class D felony criminal mischief; and Class C felony operating a vehicle while intoxicated.  The court sentenced him to an aggregate term of nine years and 60 days, with 1 ½ year suspended to probation.

On appeal in Kevin Henson v. State of Indiana, 89A01-1705-CR-972, Henson argued the trial court violated double jeopardy protections when it entered judgment of conviction for him on two counts of battery against Patterson and on the battery and criminal recklessness counts related to Daniel. The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed and partially reversed Henson’s convictions in a Monday opinion.

Judge Edward Najam, writing for the appellate panel, said the state’s evidence establishing the essentials elements of battery against Patterson was based on the single act of Henson driving the vehicle into the gas pumps. Similarly, Najam said the convictions of battery and criminal recklessness related to Daniel’s injuries were both based in Henson’s act of driving the vehicle into the pumps. Thus, the appellate panel reversed Henson’s convictions of one count of Class C felony battery and one count of Class D felony criminal recklessness and remanded the case for those convictions to be vacated.

But the appellate court affirmed Henson’s five remaining convictions of those felony offenses, as the state presented sufficient evidence to prove he intentionally drove the car into the gas pumps and intentionally used the car as a deadly weapon as part of his argument with Daniel. Finally, the appellate panel upheld Henson’s sentence as appropriate in light of the nature of the offenses and his character.

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