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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. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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