News and Tribune

February 13, 2013

State court reviews conviction

Appeal entered by defense not approved

By GARY POPP
gary.popp@newsandtribune.com

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Court of Appeals found no grounds to overturn the battery conviction of Blaine Johnson, of Louisville, who had assaulted his girlfriend in June 2011 while traveling together in her vehicle in Henryville. Johnson was convicted in Clark County Circuit Court No. 1 in 2011.

The appeals court’s ruling was handed down Feb. 4. 

Johnson's defense purported to the appeal court that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied the defense's motion to continue trial and that Clark County prosecutors did not present sufficient evidence to support the conviction.

Johnson was originally charged with criminal confinement, a class B felony; battery, a class C felony; intimidation, a class C felony; battery, a class A misdemeanor; and being a habitual offender.

He was found guilty of both battery charges and with being a habitual offender.

The court entered judgment of conviction only for the C felony battery and sentenced Johnson to eight years enhanced by the habitual offender adjudication for a total of a 16-year sentence.

In review of the defense’s contention that the trial court denied its motion to continue, according to the appeals court's findings, the defense argued that it did not have ample time to interview the victim before she testified during the trial.

The prosecution had experienced difficulties locating the victim during the proceedings, but the appeal court found that the defense had 14 days prior to the trial to take statements from the victim.

“[The defense] was afforded the opportunity to depose or interview [the victim] during the two weeks preceding the trial, but [it] declined,” according that appeals court’s review.

The state court’s document continued that the defense asserted their cross-examination of the victim during the trial was compromised by the trial court’s refusal to grant a continuance to allow for proper presentation, but it did not explain, specifically, according to the state judges, how the trial preparation or cross-examination was compromised.

“Without such an explanation, [the defense] cannot show that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied [its] motion to continue trial,” the decision read.

In review of the defense’s assertion that there was not sufficient evidence to support the conviction, the state outlines that to prove a class C felony battery, the contested conviction, the state was required to show that Johnson knowingly or intentional touched the victim in a rude, insolent, or angry manner resulting in serious bodily injury — the act of Johnson biting his girlfriend on the face and finger causing bleeding and pain. To meet state statute, the act must result in an injury that caused extreme pain.

“[The defense’s] sole contention on appeal is that the state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that [Johnson’s] conduct caused [the victim] to experience extreme pain,” the manuscript states.

The document references the victim’s testimony that Johnson, “bit into [her] face really, really hard. He bit into [her] face so hard it broke [her] nose and [she] had to have stitches. [She] actually thought he [had] bit [her] nose off.”

Judges included in the document that the victim had received six stitches on her face and appeared at the trial with a scar on her face from the bite.

The appeal court found that sufficient evidence was provided to show that the victim had sustained extreme pain as a result of the battery.