Man’s conviction in Indianapolis CVS theft upheld

The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a man’s theft conviction, finding testimony about what a law enforcement officer saw on a CVS pharmacy’s security footage did not violate the best evidence rule.

Not long after he was suspected of stealing several items from an Indianapolis CVS pharmacy store, Colin Caesar was located and detained. Indiana Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Tamar Harper, who along with another officer located Caesar, returned to the CVS to speak with an employee who witnessed the incident and to review security footage. The employee later positively identified Caesar, and officers found the bag he had filled was full of items labeled “CVS.”

Caesar was charged with Class A misdemeanor theft, and during a bench trial, he objected to the state’s request that Harper describe what she saw on the CVS security video. Caesar argued the testimony violated the best evidence rule, but the Marion Superior Court twice overruled his objection.

The sergeant proceeded to describe a man that “matched the description” of “the male that was being … detained at the time.” She also noted that she saw the man leave the store “past all points of payment and that he had a bag.”

On appeal, Caesar argued that the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted Harper’s testimony about the content of security video because it violated Indiana Evidence Rule 1002.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in Colin Caesar v. State of Indiana, 19A-CR-01933, noting that it does not need to decide whether the trial court erred when it allowed the sergeant to testify about what she had viewed on the security footage because any error in the admission of that evidence was harmless.

“In light of all of the evidence before the court, we can say with confidence that the probable impact of Sergeant Harper’s testimony about the content of the security footage was sufficiently minor so as to not affect Caesar’s substantial rights. Accordingly, we conclude that any error in the court’s admission of that testimony was harmless,” Judge Edward Najam wrote.

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