Huddleston v. State, No. 20A05-1012-PC-813, __ N.E.2d __ (Ind. Ct. App., July 8, 2011).

BARNES, J.

            At the conclusion of the factual basis questioning, the following transpired:

Q: Do you understand that because you provided the knife that you are an accessory in this case?

A: Yes, ma’am.

Q: Do you understand what accessory means?

A: Yeah.

Q: What does accessory mean?

A: Like the demonstration you showed me with—if a person robs a bank, he’s part of it.

Q: Okay. Like the get-away driver?

A: Yes, ma’am.

Q: Okay. And you understand that because you got the knife and gave it to Ronald knowing that you were going to beat up Shannon, that could have happened?

A: I really didn’t think my cousin Ronald was capable of doing anything like that, so I wanted—it wasn’t no [sic] intentionally. I didn’t know he was going to do that.

Q: It wasn’t intentionally. Correct?

A: It was a big surprise. That was the most surprising—the most biggest surprise in my whole entire life that I ever seen.

Q: Okay. But when you gave Ronald the knife it was possible. Correct?

A: Yes, it could be possible.

Q: And you understand that because you are an accessory in this case you are guilty of the crime of murder?

A: Yes, ma’am.

Id. at 62-63.

Before accepting Huddleston’s guilty plea, the trial court questioned him further:

Q: And you’ve told me that you’re taking responsibility for those acts. Is that correct?

A: I’m taking responsibility for what I done, yes. 

Q: Well, I understand you’re [sic] position. I’m not going to accept your plea of guilty unless you tell me you knowingly participated in the killing of Mr. Goins. Did you knowingly participate in the killing of Mr. Goins?

A: Yeah. I was there. Yes, sir. I was there, yes, sir.

Q: I’ll try it one more time with you, Mr. Huddleston. Are you telling me you’re guilty of this offense of murder as charged?

A: Yes, sir.

Id. at 68-69. The trial court then accepted Huddleston’s plea, and subsequently sentenced him to fifty years.

            . . . .

            Here, despite professing that he wanted to plead guilty to murder, Huddleston quite clearly and unequivocally stated during the factual basis colloquy that he did not intend for S.G. to be killed, nor did he know or anticipate that White would kill S.G. These statements constitute an outright denial by Huddleston that he possessed the requisite mens rea to be convicted of murder as White’s accomplice. Perhaps recognizing the difficulty presented by Huddleston’s statements, the trial court attempted to question him further as to whether he truly wanted to plead guilty; as the record reflects, it took three attempts by the trial court to extricate a simple “yes” from Huddleston as to whether he was guilty of murder.

            We cannot conclude that Huddleston’s ultimate “yes” to the question of whether he was guilty of murder was sufficient to override his earlier statements expressly denying the requisite culpability for murder.  . . . [D]espite the trial court’s efforts to extract an unequivocal admission from Huddleston that he was guilty of murder, we cannot square any such admission with his statements, made during the same proceeding, that he lacked the requisite culpability for that offense. The trial court erred in accepting the guilty plea; consequently, the post-conviction court erred in denying Huddleston’s PCR petition.

RILEY, J., and DARDEN, J., concur.

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