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Admission of video and recorded statements did not violate Sixth Amendment

July 15, 2014

The defendant in a drug trial was unable to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that his constitutional right to confront a witness was violated when the confidential informant did not testify at trial.

Antonio Vaughn was convicted by a jury and sentenced to an aggregate 40-year term for two counts of dealing in cocaine, each as a Class A felony, and one count of maintaining a common nuisance, a Class D felony. He was arrested and charged after a confidential informant made two controlled buys which the Terre Haute Police Department recorded on video.

At trial, the videos, photographs, recording of telephone calls and statements made during those calls were admitted into evidence.

On appeal, Vaughn argued the evidence was inadmissible and highly prejudicial hearsay. In addition, he claimed because the confidential informant did not take the stand, the admission of evidence violated his Sixth Amendment right to confront the witness along with his right to a fair trial under the Due Process Clause.

The Court of Appeals rejected those arguments and affirmed Vaughn’s conviction in Antonio L. Vaughn v. State of Indiana, 84A01-1302-CR-57.

Citing Williams v. State, 930 N.E.2d 602, 607 (Ind. Ct. App.), the Court of Appeals held the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment does not prohibit “the use of testimonial statements for purposes other than establishing the truth of the matter asserted.”

The videos and pictures of the controlled drug buys between Vaughn and the confidential informant only showed the conduct of the two parties and, according to the COA, were not meant to be an assertion.

The audio recordings of the telephone calls between Vaughn and the confidential informant did not constitute hearsay, the Court of Appeals ruled. The statements made by the confidential informant were designed to prompt Vaught to speak and were not offered for the truth of the matter asserted.

 
 

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