COA affirms stalking conviction of man who followed teen in stores


A southern Indiana man who followed the same teenage girl through two stores on separate occasions, staying as close as five feet to her at all times, could not convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that his felony conviction for stalking needed to be overturned.

Steven M. Sandleben was charged with stalking 13-year-old A.S. after closely following her section by section and aisle by aisle through Target and Michaels stores. He also videotaped her as he followed her. A.S.’s father called the police after the second incident, and Sandleben was arrested and charged with stalking.

In Steven M. Sandleben v. State of Indiana, 82A01-1407-CR-284, he claimed that the state didn’t prove that he stalked the teenager, but the COA affirmed that the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Sandleben: (1) knowingly or intentionally (2) engaged in a course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of the victim (3) that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or threatened and (4) that actually caused the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or threatened.

Sandleben argued that he was free to videotape whomever he wanted while in public, but the judges pointed out that filming A.S. was not the basis for the stalking charge, rather it was it his intentional, repeated acts of following the girl. A.S. testified that Sandleben’s actions made her nervous and scared.

The COA also determined there was no error in admitting evidence obtained as a result of his arrest. Sandleben’s rights were not violated under either the Fourth Amendment or Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution because officers had probable cause to arrest him for stalking. Thus, the photos or videos on his phone or camera were probative evidence of his conduct toward A.S.

They also affirmed his 30-month sentence, finding it to be appropriate given the nature of the offense and his character. The appeals court noted that Sandleben was convicted of two counts of Class D felony voyeurism just prior to the instant conviction, and also has misdemeanor convictions for public voyeurism and possession of paraphernalia. His sentence is within the sentencing range for a Class D felony.