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Judges affirm elevated drug convictions

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The state presented sufficient evidence to prove a defendant delivered and possessed methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a family housing complex, so the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed elevating his convictions to a higher felony level.

In Douglas Covey v. State of Indiana, No. 30A01-0906-CR-311, Douglas Covey appealed his convictions of dealing in methamphetamine as a Class A felony, possession of methamphetamine as a Class B felony, possession of methamphetamine as a Class B felony,  possession of marijuana as a Class A misdemeanor, and possession of paraphernalia a Class A misdemeanor.

Covey sold methamphetamine to a confidential informant of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department. During a second scheduled buy at the CI’s apartment, Covey saw a detective outside and tried to leave before getting into the apartment. Police stopped him and found marijuana and a pipe on him; they searched the area by the apartment and found a tin outside of the apartment door that contained two baggies of methamphetamine.

Covey argued that the state didn’t prove the place where he dealt or possessed marijuana was a “family housing complex” under Indiana criminal statute. The statute explains it could be a series of buildings operated as an apartment complex. Covey claimed defining an apartment complex relied on lease terms, but his argument is misplaced for the criminal statute, the appellate judges concluded. Judge Patricia Riley wrote that the fact that a hotel or motel would qualify as a family housing complex makes it clear the legislature wasn’t focused on the length of lease terms to define “family housing complex.”

The confidential informant testified that her apartment was located in “Greenfield Village Apartments” in which the name alone supports an inference that the place operated as an apartment complex, the judge continued.

The Court of Appeals also found it was up to Covey to place mitigating factors at issue, such as that there were no children around at the time, and that he was briefly within 1,000 feet of the complex, which would reduce his culpability. He failed to do so. The trial court didn’t commit fundamental error by not instructing the jury on the mitigating factors of Indiana Code Section 35-48-4-16(b) because Covey had the burden to bring up those factors to the jury.

The judges affirmed the admission of the methamphetamine found in the tin outside the apartment door.
 

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