In 2006, Appellant-Respondent Derek Hutchison pled guilty but mentally ill to Class B felony rape. In exchange for Hutchison's guilty plea, Appellee-Petitioner the State of Indiana ("the State") agreed to dismiss other pending charges. The trial court accepted Hutchison's guilty plea and sentenced him to a term of twenty years, with fifteen years executed in the Department of Correction ("DOC") and five years suspended to probation.
On November 4, 2016, the State filed a petition alleging that Hutchison had violated the terms of his probation by committing several new criminal offenses, including unlawful entry by a serious sex offender. An evidentiary hearing was conducted on January 10, 2017, at which Hutchison was represented by an attorney. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court found that Hutchison had violated the terms of his probation. Thereafter, the trial court revoked Hutchison's probation and ordered him to serve the entire five-year, previously-suspended sentence. Neither Hutchison, who claims to suffer from mental illness, nor his attorney requested a competency hearing at any time before or during the evidentiary hearing.
On appeal, Hutchison contends that the trial court committed fundamental error by failing to conduct a competency hearing before revoking his probation. Concluding otherwise, we affirm.
Facts and Procedural History
Our memorandum decision in Hutchinson's prior direct appeal, which was handed down on November 16, 2007, instructs us to the underlying facts and procedural history which have led to the instant probation revocation proceeding:
Hutchison v. State, 48A02-1611-CR-1059, *1-2 (Ind. Ct. App. Nov. 16, 2007) (footnote omitted). Hutchinson's sentence was affirmed on direct appeal. Id. at *4. In affirming Hutchinson's sentence, we noted the following about his mental state:
Id. at *3. Hutchison was released from incarceration and placed on probation on or about October 21, 2016.
On November 4, 2016, the State filed a petition alleging that Hutchison had violated the terms of his probation by committing several new criminal offenses, including unlawful entry by a serious sex offender. An evidentiary hearing was conducted on January 10, 2017, at which Hutchison was represented by an attorney. It is of note that neither Hutchison nor his attorney requested a competency hearing at any time before or during the evidentiary hearing.
During the evidentiary hearing, the State presented evidence indicating that on November 1, 2016, Elwood Police Officer Sherry Wright was working as a school resource officer at Elwood Junior-Senior High School when she encountered Hutchison. Hutchison came into the school office during school hours, identified himself as Mitchel Cruz, and indicated that he had come to speak with a student, M.R. When asked how he had gotten into the school, Hutchison indicated that "another student had let him in." Tr. Vol. II, p. 33. Hutchison left the school after Officer Wright advised him that the school officials "didn't pull kids out of a classroom just to come down and speak with other people in the office." Tr. Vol. II, p. 33.
The next morning, Elwood Police Officer Andy McGuire was on patrol at the school when he observed Hutchison riding a bicycle between an elementary school and the junior-senior high school. About this same time, M.R.'s mother approached Officer McGuire and expressed concern that Hutchison had attempted to pick her daughter up from school the day before.
After speaking with M.R.'s mother, Officer McGuire approached Hutchison. Hutchison identified himself as Mitchell Cruz and told Officer McGuire that "he wanted to apologize to [M.R.'s mother] because for the confusion as what, as he put it for trying to pick her daughter up the day prior." Tr. Vol. II, p. 15. Hutchison gave Officer McGuire what he claimed was his parents' phone number. He told Officer McGuire that he lived with his parents at a residence located on South 25th Street. Hutchison also told Officer McGuire that "he had graduated early and that he was just confused and didn't really know where he was and he was trying to find his way home." Tr. Vol. II, p. 15. Officer McGuire pointed Hutchison in the direction of South 25th Street.
In light of M.R.'s mother's concern, Officer McGuire decided to follow Hutchison home and make sure that his parents were aware of what had happened at the school. Officer McGuire testified that
Tr. Vol. II, pp. 16-17. When asked why he would give Officer McGuire a false name, Hutchison indicated that he "wanted to talk to his probation officer." Tr. Vol. II, p. 17. Hutchison's mother then informed Officer McGuire that Hutchison "was on probation for rape." Tr. Vol. II, p. 18.
Upon receiving this information, Officer McGuire transported Hutchison to the police department for an interview. Hutchison consented to be interviewed after Officer McGuire informed him of his rights. During this interview, Hutchison indicated that he had attempted to approach M.R. because she reminded him of "an ex-girlfriend of his and he couldn't get her out of his mind and kept thinking about her" after he encountered M.R. and a group of her friends "trick or treating" on Halloween. Tr. Vol. II, p. 18. Hutchison also indicated that on October 30, 2016, he had been found in a Sunday school class for five-year-olds at East Main Street Church, which also housed the Noah's Ark Preschool.
Hutchison did not dispute that he had entered the school on November 1, 2016 or had been present on school property on November 2, 2016. He acknowledged his legal name during the evidentiary hearing but also provided several aliases. However, he did dispute the fact that he was twenty-eight years old, claiming that he was seventeen years old.
Hutchison admitted that he had been convicted of rape "ten (10) years ago" but indicated that he did "felt that there was nothing wrong with being in schools." Tr. Vol. II, p. 43. Hutchison indicated that he did not fully understand the advisement of rights which had been given to him by Officer McGuire on November 2, 2016, and that prior to giving his statement, he had asked to see his therapist, Doctor Walter Campbell, who he had been seeing since August of 2012. Hutchison also indicated that his current psychiatric diagnosis was "severe post-traumatic stress disorder" which he claimed stemmed from "my being sexually abused when I was eight (8) years old and from, from the, an explosion in the Navy Seals[
At the conclusion of the evidentiary hearing, the trial court found that Hutchison had violated the terms of his probation. In making this finding, the trial court stated the following:
Tr. Vol. II, p. 60. Thereafter, the trial court revoked Hutchison's probation and ordered him to serve the entire five-year, previously-suspended sentence. This appeal follows.
Discussion and Decision
Prewitt v. State, 878 N.E.2d 184, 188 (Ind. 2007) (internal citations omitted).
In the instant matter, Hutchison does not argue that the evidence is insufficient to prove that he violated the terms of his probation or that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering him to serve the entire five-year balance of his previously-suspended sentence. Rather, Hutchison argues that the trial court committed fundamental error by failing to order a competency evaluation before finding that he had violated the terms of his probation.
"The `fundamental error' exception is extremely narrow, and applies only when the error constitutes a blatant violation of basic principles, the harm or potential for harm is substantial, and the resulting error denies the defendant fundamental due process." Mathews v. State, 849 N.E.2d 578, 587 (Ind. 2006).
Brown v. State, 929 N.E.2d 204, 207 (Ind. 2010).
In arguing that the trial court committed fundamental error, Hutchison relies on our opinion in Donald v. State, 930 N.E.2d 76 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010). In Donald, the appellant requested a competency evaluation prior to his probation revocation hearing. 930 N.E.2d at 79. The trial court denied this request, conducted an evidentiary hearing, and revoked the appellant's probation. Id. On appeal, we concluded that one has a due process right to a competency evaluation prior to a probation revocation hearing if such an evaluation is warranted. Id. at. 80. "[I]t is within the sound discretion of the trial court whether reasonable grounds exist to order a competency evaluation and that decision will be reviewed only for an abuse of discretion." Id. We further concluded that the trial court committed fundamental error because it "did not reach the issue of whether there were reasonable grounds for a competency hearing" after a request for such an evaluation was raised by the appellant. Id. Unlike in Donald, however, neither Hutchison nor his attorney requested a competency evaluation at any point prior to or during the evidentiary hearing. Hutchison's reliance on this opinion is therefore unavailing.
Hutchison also cites to the pre-sentence investigation report ("PSI") that was completed in connection to the underlying matter following his guilty plea. As to Hutchison's mental state at the time of sentencing, the PSI provides, in relevant part, as follows:
Appellant's App. Vol. II — Confidential, pp. 21-22. As is stated in the above-quoted section, Hutchison was found competent to stand trial in 2006. Hutchison has provided no evidence that his mental condition has seriously deteriorated since that time.
It is well-established that "`not all mental conditions are serious enough to relieve one of criminal responsibility.'" Anderson v. State, 699 N.E.2d 257, 261 (Ind. 1998) (quoting Cate v. State, 644 N.E.2d 546, 547 (Ind. 1994); see also Eddmonds v. Peters, 93 F.3d 1307, 1314 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting U.S. ex rel. Foster v. DeRobertis, 741 F.2d 1007, 1012 (7th Cir. 1984)) (providing that "`[n]ot every manifestation of mental illness demonstrates incompetence to stand trial; rather the evidence must indicate a present inability to assist counsel or understand the charges'"); Galowski v. Berge, 78 F.3d 1176, 1182 (7th Cir.1996); Medina v. Singletary, 59 F.3d 1095, 1107 (11th Cir.1995) (providing that "neither low intelligence, mental deficiency, nor bizarre, volatile, and irrational behavior can be equated with mental incompetence to stand trial"). Furthermore, the trial court, having had the opportunity to observe and interact with Hutchison during the evidentiary hearing, was in the best position to judge Hutchison's then-current mental state. See Timmons v. State, 500 N.E.2d 1212, 1217 (Ind. 1986) (providing that the trial court "can observe a defendant's demeanor, including any uncooperative behavior, and determine defendant competent to stand trial").
Hutchison acknowledged that he had been informed upon his release from DOC that he was not to be on school property. Nevertheless, less than one month after his release from DOC, Hutchison went onto school property on at least two separate occasions. Hutchison has presented no evidence which indicates that his mental condition prevented him from understanding or remembering that he was not supposed to be on school property. In fact, Hutchison's act of providing officers with a false name and telephone number suggests he understood that he was not supposed to be on school property.
As is mentioned above, the trial court found that while Hutchison suffered from some mental issues, such issues did not "debilitate" Hutchison to the point that he did not know what he was doing. Tr. Vol. II, p. 60. The trial court's observations of Hutchison during the evidentiary hearing were an adequate basis for the trial court's determination that Hutchison was competent. See Manuel v. State, 535 N.E.2d 1159, 1162 (Ind. 1989) (providing that observations of the defendant's demeanor during hearings before the court are an adequate basis for finding that a competency evaluation is not necessary). Hutchison has failed to prove that the trial court committed fundamental error by failing to order a competency evaluation.
The judgment of the trial court is affirmed. May, J., and Barnes, J., concur.