Opinions May 19, 2023

Court of Appeals of Indiana
James H. Higgason III v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms James Higgason III’s three convictions of murder. Finds the Lake Superior Court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Higgason’s motion to dismiss and motion for mistrial. Also finds the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted the digitized recording of the phone calls between David Copley and Higgason. Finally, finds any error in the trial court’s decision to not notify counsel when the jury asked a question about Higgason’s culpability was harmless because Higgason did not establish prejudice. and there was sufficient evidence to convict Higgason of the murders.

Tony Lawrence Richey v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms Tony Richey’s conviction of Level 4 felony possession of a firearm as a serious violent felon. Finds officers did not violate Richey’s rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. Also finds that state presented sufficient evidence that Richey had committed an SVF-qualifying offense. Finally, finds the Shelby Superior Court did not commit fundamental error when it admitted evidence of more than one of Richey’s prior convictions.

Thomas L. Green v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Thomas Green’s conviction of stalking and his consecutive sentencing. Finds the Elkhart Superior Court did not err in its admission of certain evidence. Also finds Green’s sentences can be ordered to be served consecutively to those for his other crimes, both of which are crimes of violence.

Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, as subrogee of Arel Wood, Jr. v. Kyle Hobson (mem. dec.)
Civil plenary. Reverses and remands Warrick Superior Court’s grant of summary judgment for Kyle Hobson. Finds that there is a genuine issue of material fact concerning both whether Hobson felt a seizure coming on and had time for deliberation and action prior to a car accident.

R.C. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Juvenile. Affirms the juvenile court’s decision to modify its dispositional decree and place R.C. under the wardship of the Department of Correction. Finds the court did not abuse its discretion.

Drew A. Castor v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Drew A. Castor’s 32-year sentence for his convictions of two counts of Level 3 felony child molesting. Finds the Blackford Circuit Court did not abuse its discretion in its determination of mitigating and aggravating circumstances. Also finds the sentence is not inappropriate.

Scott E. Miller v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms the denial of Scott E. Miller’s petition to modify his sentence. Finds the LaGrange Superior Court did not abuse its discretion.

In Re: The Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of E.P., Ky.P., Ka.P, Ku.P, and L.P. (Minor Children); A.P. (Mother) and M.P. (Father) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)
Juvenile termination of parental rights. Affirms the termination of mother A.P. and father M.P.’s parental rights to their five children. Finds the Department of Child Services did not violate A.P.’s due process rights. Also finds there is sufficient evidence to support the terminations.

Pavel Nery-Gonzalez v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Pavel Nery-Gonzalez’s conviction for murder. Finds the state produced sufficient evidence to rebut Nery-Gonzalez’s claim that he had acted in self-defense when he stabbed Angel Cruz four times.

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