DOC#: 21486 Black Male
Marion County Superior Court
Judge Patricia J. Gifford
Prosecutor: David E. Cook
Defense: Grant W. Hawkins
Date of Murder: October 19, 1982
Victim(s): Robert Falkner W/M/41
(No relationship to Van Cleave)
Method of Murder: shooting with
Summary: Robert Falkner was
outside his home one night working by floodlight caulking a window
while watching the World Series on television. He was shot in the
chest with a shotgun.
Van Cleave, Brazleton, Coleman and Sims were
driving around geting high with liquor and marijuana looking for
someone to rob when they came upon Falkner. Sims and Van Cleave got
out, with Van Cleave carrying a shotgun.
Van Cleave confronted Falkner and a neighbor
overhead Falkner say "What do you mean, 'shut up.'" Van Cleave then
shot Falkner in the chest and fled.
Van Cleave admitted shooting Falkner, but claimed
that "the gun just went off," and that the shooting was accidental.
Brazleton and Coleman testified after reaching plea agreements with
the State. Ballistics experts confirmed that the shot was fired from
a distance from 6-8 feet
Conviction: Pled Guilty to
Felony-Murder (Conspiracy to Commit Robbery dismissed as part of
Plea agreement. The agreement allowed both sides to present evidence
and arguments on a death sentence and intent, but commanded 60 years
imprisonment if a death sentence was not imposed)
Sentencing: May 27, 1983 (Death
Aggravating Circumstances: b (1)
Mitigating Circumstances: 20
years old at the time of murder, intoxication, bad home life, failed
stint in the Army-Honorable Discharge, could not find a job after
Special Judge Thomas Gray denies PCR relief.
Following new sentencing hearing, Special Judge Thomas Gray rules
that State has not satisfied burden of proof and a death sentence is
removed form consideration. On 06-05-98 Van Cleave is resentenced to
60 years imprisonment.