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Date: 04-13-2019

Case Style:

D'Angelo A. Honorable v. State of Indiana

Case Number: 18A-CR-2345

Judge: Cale J. Bradford


Plaintiff's Attorney: Justin F. Roebel
Supervising Deputy Attorney

Defendant's Attorney: Elizabeth A. Bellin


In November of 2016, Breanna Humphries lived with her mother Teketa
Hixson and several others in a house at 201 Park Avenue in Elkhart, while
Humphries’s ex-boyfriend Clarence Sims lived nearby at 2014 Roys Avenue.
On the afternoon of November 30, 2016, Sims and Humphries exchanged
angry text messages over something she had posted about him on Facebook.
When Humphries texted Sims that she wanted to spit on him, he dared her to
try, and she left 201 Park to confront Sims at his aunt’s house at 130 West
Cleveland Avenue.
[3] When Humphries arrived with a friend, she argued with Sims and the then
fourteen-year-old Honorable through an open window, but Sims and
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Honorable refused to come outside. Humphries left and returned with her male
cousin, who told Sims and Honorable to come outside. Honorable responded,
“No, we’re waiting on E-Dub. We have a mission to do.” Tr. Vol. III p. 106.
E-Dub was a friend of Humphries’s aunt who frequently visited at 130 West
Cleveland. Humphries and the others eventually left, and she returned home to
201 Park at approximately 8:00 p.m.
[4] At approximately 9:00 p.m., Humphries, wanting to have the last word, started
a text conversation with Honorable. The exchange was acrimonious, with
Humphries generally ridiculing Honorable and Sims for being too cowardly to
come outside when she had come over to confront Sims, and Honorable, inter
alia, threatening to “f*** yo house up.” Tr. Vol. III p. 121. Shortly after 9:15
p.m., Hixson’s nephew Tyquan Page encountered Honorable, who was
carrying a handgun, in an alleyway near 201 Park. When Page asked
Honorable what he was doing, he replied that he was “gonna shoot up the
house.” Tr. Vol. IV p. 10. Honorable also indicated that he had obtained the
handgun from E-Dub. Page called to warn Hixson about Honorable, but she
was skeptical.
[5] At 201 Park, Hixson had just ended her telephone call with Page when the
shooting began. Honorable had concealed himself behind a nearby garage and
fired five shots into the house. Approximately ten persons were inside the
house at the time, and lights were on in many rooms, including at least one
upstairs bedroom, a downstairs bedroom, a family room, and the kitchen. The
bullets all struck the house near the family room window, with three entering
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the family room, one becoming embedded in the house’s framing, and one
entering an upstairs sitting area. Evidence indicated that the curtain on the
family room window was open at the time. One of the bullets that entered the
family room passed through a wall into a bedroom, striking Hixson in the head.
Hixson eventually succumbed to her wound.
[6] On February 1, 2017, the State charged Honorable with murder following the
juvenile court’s waiver of jurisdiction. On August 8, 2018, a jury found
Honorable guilty as charged, and, on August 30, 2018, the trial court sentenced
him to sixty-four years of incarceration with five suspended to probation. The
trial court found Honorable’s age and statements to be mitigating. The trial
court found, as aggravating circumstances, his prior criminal history, including
five adjudications for violent behavior; his violent behavior at the juvenile
detention center, including attacking a staff member; his use of alcohol and
marijuana; his repeated use of a firearm; his failure to take advantage of various
past alternative sanctions and resources; the circumstances of the crime,
including the presence of children; and the senselessness of the crime. The trial
court also denied Honorable’s request for alternative juvenile sentencing.
Discussion and Decision I. Sufficiency of the Evidence [7] Honorable contends that the State failed to present evidence sufficient to sustain
his conviction for murder. When a defendant challenges the sufficiency of the
evidence used to convict him of a crime, we consider only the probative
evidence and reasonable inferences arising therefrom supporting the conviction.
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Drane v. State, 867 N.E.2d 144, 146 (Ind. 2007). We will affirm a conviction
unless no reasonable fact-finder could find the elements of the crime proven
beyond a reasonable doubt. Young v. State, 973 N.E.2d 1225, 1226 (Ind. Ct.
App. 2012). Put another way, reversal of a defendant’s conviction “is
appropriate only when a reasonable trier of fact would not be able to form
inferences as to each material element of the offense.” Purvis v. State, 87 N.E.3d
1119, 1124 (Ind. Ct. App. 2017), aff’d on reh’g, 96 N.E.3d 123 (Ind. Ct. App.
2018). This standard of review does not permit us to reweigh the evidence or
allow us to judge the credibility of the witnesses. McCallister v. State, 91 N.E.3d
554, 558 (Ind. 2018). In cases where there is conflicting evidence in the record,
we consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the trial court’s
judgment. Drane, 867 N.E.2d at 146.
[8] Here, the State was required to establish that Honorable knowingly killed
Hixson, and Honorable challenges only the State’s proof that he did it
“knowingly.” Ind. Code § 35-42-1-1(1). “A person knowingly kills when he is
aware of a high probability that he is engaged in killing.” Lehman v. State, 730
N.E.2d 701, 704 (Ind. 2000); see also Ind. Code § 35-41-2-2(b) (“A person
engages in conduct ‘knowingly’ if, when he engages in the conduct, he is aware
of a high probability that he is doing so.”). A defendant’s state of mind can be
established “by the circumstances surrounding the killing and the method of
killing.” Ronk v. State, 470 N.E.2d 1337, 1339 (Ind. 1984). “[K]nowing killing
may be inferred from a defendant’s use of a deadly weapon in a manner likely
to cause death.” Barker v. State, 695 N.E.2d 925, 931 (Ind. 1998).
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[9] The circumstances allowed the jury to find that Honorable knew that his
actions were likely to cause death. Honorable shot five bullets into a house
being fully aware that Humphries lived there with her mother and siblings and
which, at the time of the shooting, was occupied by at least four children and
many adults, several of whom were in the family room. Moreover, the record
contains ample evidence that the house was occupied at the time. Lights were
on in many rooms, including at least one upstairs bedroom, the living room, a
downstairs bedroom, and the kitchen. Televisions were on in the family room
and downstairs bedroom, and a laptop computer was on upstairs. From his
position nearby, it is reasonable to infer that Honorable saw the lights on in the
family room, the kitchen, and the upstairs bedroom, at the very least, and very
likely the flickering of televisions.
[10] Despite indications of current occupation, Honorable’s bullets all struck the
house near the family-room window, with one becoming embedded in the
house’s framing, three entering the family room in which several persons were
sitting, and one entering an upstairs sitting area. While there was a curtain on
the family-room window, the evidence indicated that the curtain was open at
the time. Even if the curtain had been drawn, a witness described the curtain as
“thin-like” and explained that an observer would have been able to see if there
was somebody in the room. Tr. Vol. IV p. 40. We conclude that the evidence
supports a conclusion that Honorable shot at the house aware of a high
probability that somebody inside would be killed.
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[11] Honorable points to his testimony that he believed the house was unoccupied
when he fired five shots into it and that he was aiming at the brick near the
bottom of the house. The jury, however, was not required to credit either of
these claims and did not. We conclude that the State produced sufficient
evidence to sustain a finding that Honorable had a knowing intent to kill.
Honorable’s argument amounts to nothing more than an invitation to reweigh
the evidence, which we will not do. See McCallister, 91 N.E.3d at 558.
II. Whether Honorable’s Sentence is Inappropriate [12] Honorable contends that his sentence is inappropriately harsh. We will revise a
sentence only if, upon “due consideration of the trial court’s decision” it
nonetheless appears that “the sentence is inappropriate in light of the nature of
the offense and the character of the offender.” Ind. Appellate Rule 7(B);
Anglemyer v. State, 868 N.E.2d 482, 490–91 (Ind. 2007), clarified on reh’g, 875
N.E.2d 218 (2007). The “nature of the offense” refers to the defendant’s acts in
comparison with the elements of his offense, Cardwell v. State, 895 N.E.2d 1219,
1224 (Ind. 2008), while “character of the offender” refers to general sentencing
considerations and the relevant aggravating and mitigating circumstances.
Knapp v. State, 9 N.E.3d 1274, 1292 (Ind. 2014). Honorable has the burden to
show his sentence is inappropriate in light of both the nature of the offense and
his character. Gil v. State, 988 N.E.2d 1231, 1237 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013). This
can only be done with “compelling evidence portraying in a positive light the
nature of the offense […] and the defendant’s character.” Stephenson v. State, 29
N.E.3d 111, 122 (Ind. 2015). The trial court sentenced Honorable to sixty-four
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years of incarceration, with five suspended to probation. The sentencing range
for murder is forty-five to sixty-five years, with an advisory sentence of fifty-five
years. Ind. Code § 35-50-2-3.
[13] The nature of Honorable’s offense is disturbing. Honorable fired five bullets
into a house occupied by approximately ten persons, including four children.
When Hixson—a mother of four—was shot, she was sitting on a bed next to a
one-year-old child. While Honorable’s actions only resulted in one death, the
consequences could have been far worse. Even so, as the trial court noted, the
shooting destroyed two families by leaving Hixson’s four children without a
mother and by causing despair to Honorable’s own family. Moreover, as the
trial court also noted, the shooting was particularly senseless with Honorable
wanting “to get street cred […] to show how tough [he is] so that […]
everybody better know[s] not to mess with” him. Tr. Vol. V p. 65. While
Honorable attempts to characterize his crime as insuring that Humphries would
not hurt his grandfather, the text message evidence shows that this shooting was
mere retaliation for Humphries taunting him for not coming outside during her
argument with Sims. In any event, Honorable told police that Humphries had
only threatened to hurt his grandfather’s truck. The nature of Honorable’s
offense suggests that his sentence is not inappropriate.
[14] Honorable’s character does not bode well for his argument. The character of
the offender is found in what is learned regarding a defendant’s life and
conduct. See Lindsey v. State, 916 N.E.2d 230, 241–42 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009)
(reviewing the defendant’s criminal history, probation violations, and history of
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misconduct while incarcerated), trans. denied. Despite being only sixteen years
old at the time of sentencing, Honorable already had a significant history of
delinquency including an informal adjustment for theft, four adjudications for
battery, and one adjudication for battery resulting in bodily injury. Honorable
behaved violently while placed in juvenile detention, attacking a staff member.
As the trial court observed, “[e]very time [Honorable] get[s] the choice, [he]
choose[s] violence.” Tr. Vol. V. p. 65.
[15] Moreover, Honorable has shown little to no interest in reforming himself to
date. Honorable has been provided with resources and alternative sanctions
aimed at modifying his behavior, all to no avail, including informal adjustment,
shoplifting clinic, juvenile detention, non-reporting probation, supervised
probation, community service, counseling, restitution, random drug screens,
and education. Honorable has an admitted history of alcohol and marijuana
use, including daily use of marijuana and use of both alcohol and marijuana on
the day of the shooting.
[16] Finally, the trial court properly considered Honorable’s statements of remorse.
As we have observed, “the trial court is in the best position to judge the
sincerity of a defendant’s remorseful statements.” Stout v. State, 834 N.E.2d
707, 711 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005), trans. denied. Here, while the court did find
Honorable’s statements to be mitigating, it also observed Honorable’s conduct
during trial and sentencing and found that he “never showed remorse for [his]
actions[.]” Tr. Vol. V pp. 65–66. The trial court observed that “there is a
hollowness to your words when you say you’re sorry.” Tr. Vol. V p. 66. This
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finding was within the trial court’s discretion. See Stout, 834 N.E.2d at 711. In
light of the nature of his offense and his character, we conclude that Honorable
has failed to establish that his sentence is inappropriately harsh.
III. Whether the Trial Court Abused is Discretion in Declining to Impose Alternative Juvenile Sentencing [17] Indiana Code section 31-30-4-2 provides that when an offender under the age of
eighteen is convicted of a felony in criminal court, the trial court “may […]
impose a sentence upon the conviction of the offender under this chapter[,]”
which allows for suspended sentences or juvenile commitments instead of a
criminal sentence. The statute explicitly leaves application of alternative
juvenile sentencing to the discretion of the trial court. Id. In Legg v. State, 22
N.E.3d 763 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014), trans. denied, we concluded that while there
are no mandatory considerations for a trial court making this determination, the
criteria listed in Indiana Code section 31-30-3-2 regarding waiver into adult
court “are good examples of the kinds of criteria a trial court may consider in
reaching its decision on this issue.” Id. at 767. That waiver provision sets out
five considerations:
(1) the child is charged with an act that is a felony: (A) that is heinous or aggravated, with greater weight given to acts against the person than to acts against property; or (B) that is a part of a repetitive pattern of delinquent acts, even though less serious; (2) the child was at least fourteen (14) years of age when the act charged was allegedly committed;
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(3) there is probable cause to believe that the child committed the act; (4) the child is beyond rehabilitation under the juvenile justice system; and (5) it is in the best interests of the safety and welfare of the community that the child stand trial as an adult. Ind. Code § 31-30-3-2.
[18] Here, we conclude that the same circumstances that supported waiver into
adult court also supported denial of alternative sentencing. Honorable’s
criminal conduct of firing repeatedly into a home occupied by approximately
ten persons, including four children, was heinous, and more than one death
could easily have resulted. Honorable also has a significant record of
delinquency, including prior acts of violence and failed efforts at rehabilitation.
The trial court had more than enough evidence to implicitly conclude that the
juvenile rehabilitation system could no longer help Honorable and that it was in
the best interests of the community that he receive an adult sentence. Based
upon the seriousness of the offense and Honorable’s failure to reform his
conduct in the juvenile system, we conclude that the trial court was within its
discretion to decline his request to apply the alternative juvenile sentencing
statute. See Legg, 22 N.E.3d at 767 (concluding that the trial court did not abuse
its discretion in refusing to alternatively sentence a sixteen-year-old who
committed murder as part of a pattern of other delinquent acts).

Outcome: We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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