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Judges affirm man’s drug conviction

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A man stopped by police while driving through Vigo County for unsafe lane movement – and later convicted of Class A felony dealing in cocaine – couldn’t convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that his conviction should be overturned.

Terre Haute Police Officer Brent Long pulled over Walter Smith Jr.’s U-Haul on I-70 on June 17, 2011, and asked for assistance. Officers Matthew Carden and Philip Ralston came about two minutes later and saw Long writing a warning to Smith. Ralston took over completing the warning while Long took his K-9 dog Shadow around the truck. Shadow focused in on one part of the truck, leading Long to obtain a search warrant through a telephonic hearing.

The officers cut open the padlock on the U-Haul and found two brick-like packages that contained more nearly 2,000 grams of cocaine.

Smith sought a speedy trial, and his trial was set for Sept. 27, 2011. He filed a motion to suppress evidence and sought to strike witnesses due to the state’s belated discovery compliance. Long was killed a month after the traffic stop, but Ralston and Carden testified. Just before his trial was set to begin, Smith asked for more time because he was not ready for trial. He then sought discharge pursuant to Criminal Rule 4(B) at a hearing two days after his trial was set to begin; it was denied. Smith was convicted of the felony cocaine dealing charge.

In Walter E. Smith, Jr. v. State of Indiana, 84A04-1112-CR-637, Smith argued the trial court committed reversible error when it refused his tendered jury instruction regarding a defendant’s innocence; he was entitled to a discharge under Criminal Rule 4(B); and the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted evidence from the traffic stop.

Citing Robey v. State, 454 N.E.2d 1221 (Ind. 1983) and Simpson v. State, 915 N.E.2d 511 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009), the judges held that the trial court didn’t abuse its discretion in refusing to use Smith’s tendered jury instruction because the substance of his instruction was covered by instructions given by the court.

The delay in bringing Smith to trial was chargeable to Smith and the trial court didn’t abuse its discretion in admitting the cocaine at trial because it was seized pursuant to a valid search warrant, the COA ruled. Smith didn’t offer any evidence to suggest the traffic stop or its length was unreasonable, or that the search warrant wasn’t supported by probable cause.
 

 

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  1. I will be filing a lawsuit in Tippecanoe County for so many violations in a case we became involved in, including failure to contact through mail, Violation of 4th Amendment rights, Violation of Civil Rights, and so on. Even the Indiana Ombudsmen Bureau found violations and I have now received the report and they are demanding further training in Tippecanoe County. I am going to make sure they follow through!!!

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  3. I thought the purpose of the criminal justice center was to consolidate all the criminal services and get them out of downtown to clean up the place. Why in the HELL are the civil courts moving? What a burden to all the downtown law firms. Now we all get to work downtown, but then have to get in a car and COMMUTE to court? Who approved this idiocy?

  4. I drive through the neighborhood whenever I go to the City-County Building or the Federal Courthouse. The surrounding streets are all two way with only two lanes of traffic, and traffic is very slow during rush hour. I hope that enough money has been allocated to allow for improvement of the surrounding streets.

  5. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

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