INDIANAPOLIS — A state appellate judge has overturned an attempted murder conviction for a man accused of shooting at a Bargersville police officer in 2020.
According to a ruling in the Court of Appeals of Indiana, the trial court in the 2021 trial of Andrew McQuinn gave the jury instructions “that invaded the province” to “determine the weight of the evidence.” The court said the instruction also undermined McQuinn’s defense that he did not have specific intent for attempted murder.
During the trial, the jury was told the direction of the gunfire toward the officer could be “substantial evidence” of intent to kill.
Background on case
On February 9, 2020, Bargersville police were called to McQuinn’s apartment after he attacked his girlfriend after a day of “heavy drinking.” When McQuinn learned the police were called, he stole his partner’s gun and told her he was going outside to have a “shootout with the cops.”
Court documents show Bargersville Police Officer Klint Brown responded and saw McQuinn on the far side of the apartment complex’s parking lot. He then fired six shots before putting his hands up and lying down on the ground.
Officer Brown heard the first few shots and backed his vehicle away. Police found no evidence of bullet holes to Brown’s vehicle or bullet casings in the surrounding general area where Officer Brown’s vehicle was located when the gun was fired, according to court documents.
McQuinn testified that he fired the gun in the air to “escape everything” because he was “overwhelmed with life.” Meanwhile, Officer Brown said under oath that he saw muzzle flashes that appeared to be directed at him.
An officer at the jail where McQuinn was booked said he heard him bragging about trying to kill a cop. When confronted about that on the stand, McQuinn said he was just being a “jack—” and saying “all kinds of crazy things” because he was drunk, court documents allege.
A jury found McQuinn guilty of attempted murder, domestic battery, theft of a handgun, and carrying a handgun without a license. He was sentenced to 30 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections.
McQuinn and his legal team appealed the attempted murder conviction, arguing that the trial court erred in instructing the jury when it told them “discharging a weapon in the direction of a victim can be substantial evidence from which the jury could infer intent to kill.”
“This instruction unduly emphasized the direction in which McQuinn fired the gun and encouraged the jury to give it considerable weight—all at the expense of conflicting evidence,” reads the appeals court’s opinion.
McQuinn also pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. The court found he did not personally waive his right to a jury trial before entering the guilty plea.
The appeal argued the court erred in accepting the guilty plea because again, he never waived his right to a jury trial.
McQuinn unsuccessfully appealed his convictions for domestic battery committed in the presence of a child less than 16 and theft of a firearm.
The court remanded a new trial on McQuinn’s attempted murder and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon charges.
A new trial date has not been announced.