A trial court erred when it dismissed state charges against a man who was acquitted in federal court on a charge stemming from the same incident, the Court of Appeals of Indiana has ruled.
On April 15, 2019, Jarod Deangelo Johnson was scheduled to go on trial for felony charges involving “Amber,” a woman known to T’Anna Green.
The day before the trial, as Green walked home from her job, her path was blocked by a car in which Johnson’s brother, Jaron Johnson, and his mother, Patricia Carrington, were riding. Jaron exited the car and forced Green into the backseat, where her eyes were covered.
During a stop, Green was dragged to a deserted area, where Jarod Johnson appeared, demanded to know Amber’s whereabouts and told Green to “give me the address or I’m going to do to you what I did to Amber.” Green was then shot. Green heard Johnson say, “Ma, she ain’t dead,” after which she heard several more gunshots and felt herself being shot again.
Green was left alone but was later able to make it to a house where she secured help. Subsequent investigation showed Johnson’s ankle monitor pinged in the area where Green reported being shot and around the time she reported the shooting had occurred. Police found duct tape, blood and four shell casings in that area, and Green identified Johnson, Jaron and Carrington from photos.
On April 16, the state filed an information in Cause 45G01-1904-F1-16, charging Johnson with attempted murder, two counts of kidnapping, aggravated battery, battery by means of a deadly weapon, battery resulting in serious bodily injury and intimidation. A month later, Johnson was indicted in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana on a single federal kidnapping charge.
The state moved to dismiss the F1-16 charges due to the federal charge having been filed, and the Lake Superior Court granted the motion.
Prior to Johnson’s federal trial, Jaron and Carrington each pleaded guilty to one count of federal kidnapping. But Johnson was later acquitted of the same charge in federal court.
The state then refiled an information in Cause 45G01-2104-F1-027, charging Johnson with offenses identical to those it had charged in F1-16 but without the two kidnapping charges. Johnson filed another motion to dismiss, arguing that pursuant to Indiana’s double jeopardy statute, his acquittal on the federal kidnapping charge barred his prosecution on the F1-27 charges.
The Lake Superior Court agreed and granted the motion, but the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for trial.
“In reaching these conclusions, we observe, as did the trial court in its remarks from the bench, that there is scant Indiana caselaw applying (Indiana Code) section 35-41-4-5,” COA Judge Patricia Riley wrote. “Although both parties cite to several Indiana state cases in support of their appellate arguments, none of the authority cited by either party involves a state prosecution following a federal acquittal on charges pertaining to conduct that occurred on the same day involving the same victim over an approximately two-hour timespan.
“Nevertheless, our approach today is grounded in settled law, as set forth above, that Indiana statutory double jeopardy analysis centers on comparing the conduct alleged in the charging instruments,” Riley continued. “We are unconvinced by the rationale relied upon by the trial court and as argued by Johnson on appeal that the State may not prosecute him for the charged state offenses because ‘both the state and federal prosecutions involve the same conduct and series of events that occurred over a relatively short period of time on April 14, 2019,’ as no Indiana cases to date stand for the proposition that the Indiana double jeopardy statute bars prosecution under circumstances such as those presented here, and it is unclear to us whether the trial court’s analysis was based primarily on its comparison of the factual allegations contained in the federal and state charging instruments.”
Additionally, the COA rejected Johnson’s arguments that the United States’ factual summary of the federal kidnapping case, proffered as part of a motion seeking the admission of statements by Jaron and Carrington, and the factual bases supporting Jaron’s and Carrington’s guilty pleas showed that the state was attempting to prosecute him here for the same conduct involved in the federal case.
The appeals court also rejected Johnson’s contention that because the U.S. presented evidence and argument relating to his participation in the events that will be presented at his trial on the state charges, the state charges are based on the same conduct as the federal charge.
“The fact that the United States sought to contextualize Johnson’s participation in Green’s kidnapping and his actions after he was in the car, all of which was necessary to respond to Johnson’s defense theory, did not change the fact that Johnson was not charged with, and thus was not placed in legal jeopardy for, any of the conduct forming the basis of the state charges,” Riley wrote. “Accordingly, we are ‘left with a definite and firm conviction’ that the trial court erred when it concluded that the conduct alleged in the State’s F1-27 charges was the same conduct which had formed the basis for the federal kidnapping charge.”
The case is State of Indiana v. Jarod Deangelo Johnson, 21A-CR-1726.