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COA upholds trial court’s actions and sentence during drug trial

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A defendant who contended the trial court abused its discretion and imposed an inappropriately harsh sentence had his drug conviction upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

John Cherry was stopped May 24, 2011, as part of a drug sting in Morgan County. Cherry told a detective at the scene that he was supplying heroin to Austin Quick who was with Cherry that night. Police also recovered a syringe from Cherry’s pants pocket.

The state charged Cherry with two counts of Class B felony aiding, inducing or causing dealing in heroin and Class D felony unlawful possession of a syringe.

During the trial, the state’s first witness testified that balloons swallowed by Quick during the drug bust contained heroin, and a laboratory report was entered into evidence. However, the report was later withdrawn after the trial court ruled that the state had failed to establish a sufficient chain of custody for the heroin. Cherry moved for a mistrial and requested an admonition. The trial court admonished the jury not to consider any evidence from the witness or the lab report.

Cherry was found guilty and sentenced to an aggregated sentence of 10 years for aiding, inducing or causing dealing in heroin, with two years suspended and four years of probation.  

Cherry said that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting certain evidence and in denying his mistrial motion. He also claimed the state failed to produce sufficient evidence to sustain his convictions and his sentence was inappropriately harsh.

The Court of Appeals found the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the videotape of Cherry’s statement made to a detective nor in admitting syringes found near the scene. In addition, the Court ruled the trial court did adequately admonish the jury and that Cherry failed to establish the trial court abused its discretion in denying his mistrial motion.

Also, the Court found the state produced sufficient evidence to sustain Cherry’s Class B felony convictions. Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented on the grounds that the evidence was insufficient to prove the substance in the balloons Quick swallowed was heroin.

Finally the Court upheld Cherry’s sentence, noting his history of buying and delivering heroin, his history of substance abuse, and his making “only cursory attempts at rehabilitation.”

 

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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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