Hefty sentence, convictions upheld for accomplice in Avon pharmacy robbery

A man considered to be an accomplice of an armed pharmacy robber could not convince the Indiana Court of Appeals on Tuesday that his decades-long sentence was inappropriate.

In October 2019, two armed men entered and robbed a 24-hour CVS in Avon. After stealing money and medication from the pharmacy, the men fled to a nearby parking lot near a vehicle where they were soon pursued by a police officer in the area.

The men included David Melvin and another unidentified man, along with James Parrish, who was later arrested by the officer. Melvin was later found, but the third man was not. Surveillance footage reviewed by law enforcement showed Parrish driving the same vehicle and entering various drug stores in the area, pausing near the pharmacy, then leaving without purchasing anything.

As a result, police determined Parrish to be an accomplice in the robbery and charged him with Level 2 felony robbery and three counts of Level 3 felony confinement, as well as a criminal-organization enhancement. He was ultimately handed an aggregate 52-year sentence.

In affirming his convictions, the Indiana Court of Appeals found sufficient evidence supported Parrish’s convictions and sentencing enhancement. It first disagreed with Parrish’s assertion that there was insufficient evidence to support that he was an accomplice in the robbery.

“The jury could reasonably infer from the evidence above that Parrish knowingly or intentionally aided the two men in the robbery. To find otherwise would require us to reweigh the evidence in Parrish’s favor and assess the witnesses’ credibility, which we will not do. And though we acknowledge Parrish did not personally enter the CVS, it is well settled that the acts of his confederates — Melvin and the man in the orange sweatshirt — are imputed to him,” Judge Paul D. Mathias wrote for the appellate court.

Turning to his criminal-organization enhancement, the appellate court noted that the state presented evidence from which the court could reasonably infer that Parrish, Melvin, and the man in the orange sweatshirt acted as a “criminal organization” on the night of the robbery.

“They were an informal group of at least three people that assisted in or participated in the commission of several felonies,” the appellate court wrote. It further concluded that Parrish gave no reason why a fact-finder could not reasonably infer that he “knowingly or intentionally was a member of a criminal organization” at the time of the robbery and that the robbery and other felonies committed inside the store were “at the direction of or in affiliation with a criminal organization.”

The panel next determined that Parrish was not punished twice for the same offense, rejecting his double jeopardy claims as to the criminal enhancement. It lastly found no issue with Parrish’s aggregate 52-year sentence, finding that because his sentence could have been more than 100 years, the trial court provided “some leniency.”

“In short, Parrish has pointed to no character evidence, and we fine none, to support his contention that the sentence imposed by the trial court is inappropriate,” the panel concluded in James Parrish v. State of Indiana, 20A-CR-01487.

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