COA upholds domestic battery convictions after ‘vicious’ beating

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A southern Indiana man accused of brutally beating and confining his girlfriend has lost his appeal of his domestic battery-related convictions, with the Indiana Court of Appeals rejecting his evidentiary challenges.

In Brian Ramsey v. State of Indiana, 18A-CR-1276, Brian Ramsey and Rhonda Crone, his cousin’s estranged wife, were dating and stayed with Crone’s niece, Cassandra Butcher, for a week in November 2017. During that week Butcher accused Crone of having an affair with her husband, leading Ramsey to “viciously beat” his girlfriend over several days.

Police were called to Butcher’s home when a neighbor heard the commotion. Ramsey locked Crone and Butcher in the bathroom when officers arrived and later threatened to kill the women’s children if they left the apartment. Crone’s brother and estranged husband found the two women in the apartment the next day, with Crone so badly injured that she was nearly unrecognizable.

Ramsey disputed Crone’s version of the events, instead saying he possibly injured Crone in an effort to keep her from harming herself. He also implicated Butcher as the suspect, but police charged Ramsey with five counts, including felony criminal confinement and intimidation.

Crone later recanted her statements implicating Ramsey days before his trial began, and on the stand she denied that she was held captive in the apartment and instead said Butcher had punched her. But Crone’s medical records, including hospital records indicating she had been badly beaten and held captive by her boyfriend, were admitted over Ramsey’s objection. Officer Tim Wells also testified that Crone told her Ramsey had held her captive.

Ramsey was subsequently convicted and sentenced to an aggregate 12 years on four counts. On appeal, he first challenged the admission of Crone’s incriminating medical records as inadmissible hearsay.

But writing for a unanimous appellate panel, Judge Elizabeth Tavitas said the records were properly admitted under the medical records and excited utterance exceptions to the hearsay rule.

As to the medical records exception, Tavitas wrote, “the circumstances surrounding Ramsey’s attack on Rhonda, the protracted three-day beating, the delay in medical treatment, and the fact that Rhonda was, at times, unguarded and free to leave the apartment but would not for fear of Ramsey, are circumstances that medical providers would reasonably rely upon in rendering diagnosis or treatment to a domestic violence victim.”

Turning to the excited utterance exception, Tavitas said statements Crone made about her confinement to Wells — who subsequently testified about the statements — were made “while she was under the stress of excitement from the attack… .”  

Finally, the COA rejected Ramsey’s argument that there was insufficient evidence to support his intimidation conviction.

“A reasonable inference may be drawn, from the severity of Rhonda’s injuries and her three-day delay in seeking medical treatment, that Ramsey confined Rhonda,” Tavitas wrote. “Specifically, one can reasonably infer that, in Rhonda’s condition, she did not willingly forgo medical assistance for her fractured face, ribs, scapula, and spine — injuries that required a full week of hospitalization to treat.”

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