COA affirms IMPD shooting conviction, splits attempted murder counts

The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a man’s conviction for shooting up two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department buildings, but reversed the merger of his two attempted murder convictions into one count.

Within a span of days, two different Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department buildings were “shot up.” Following the first shooting, 30 shell cases were found outside the IMPD Northwest District building, along with a handwritten note that included threats against “white” people and references to “Yahuah.”

The same thing took place at the IMPD’s North District building, where two uniformed officers were doing paperwork. Shots were fired through a glass window the men were sitting behind, and a bullet passed within inches of one of the officer’s heads.

More shell casings and a similar note were found outside the North District building. Collectively, the casings from both shootings were traced to the same gun, and Damoine Wilcoxson’s DNA was found on casings at both shooting sites.

Wilcoxson was found guilty earlier this year of murdering an 82-year-old Zionsville man who was shot while walking to his mailbox.

When SWAT arrived at Wilcoxson’s residence to take him in to custody, he allegedly began shooting in the direction of the SWAT officers. He eventually surrendered, and the same gun used at the IMPD shootings was later found inside, as well as more notes. He was then charged with Level 5 felony criminal recklessness and two counts of attempted murder.

The Marion Superior Court entered a conviction on the criminal recklessness count, but convicted Wilcoxson on only one of the two attempted murder counts, finding those two counts “merge.” It then sentenced Wilcoxson to 37 years’ imprisonment.

Wilcoxson appealed, arguing the trial court should not have allowed the state to present evidence that he fired a gun when the SWAT team came to arrest him. The Indiana Court of Appeals concluded otherwise, finding the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting that evidence.

The appellate court noted Wilcoxson’s act of firing a gun when police went to arrest him tended to prove that he harbors significant hostility toward police, which in turn “strongly suggests a motive” for the police department shootings.

“As for consciousness of guilt, Wilcoxson does not dispute that an attempt to avoid arrest is evidence of a guilty conscience,” the panel wrote. “…He contends, ‘While he may have shot because of his involvement in the district shootings, it is equally possible that he shot to avoid arrest on the other warrants.’ But the fact that Wilcoxson might have had a consciousness of guilt with regard to other conduct does not mean that he did not also have a consciousness of guilt with regard to the October 4 and October 13 shootings.”

Lastly, the appellate court noted the state had been barred from presenting evidence that Wilcoxson shot at the officers, and that the jury had been admonished twice about not considering the SWAT team shooting to establish Wilcoxson’s character as more likely to shoot at law enforcement.

In a cross-appeal, the state argued the trial court erred when it merged Wilcoxson’s two attempted murder convictions into one count when the jury had found him guilty on both counts. Finding the state’s cross-appeal to be properly before the panel, the appellate court agreed the trial court should have entered two attempted murder convictions and sentenced Wilcoxson accordingly.

Therefore, the appellate court remanded the matter to the trial court for that purpose in Damoine Wilcoxson v. State of Indiana, 18A-CR-1882.

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