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Judges reverse possession of meth, paraphernalia convictions

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In a consolidated appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a Huntington County man’s convictions and sentences for possession of methamphetamine and paraphernalia, ruling the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence purportedly seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Johnathon Aslinger was charged in Case No. 127 with the possession counts; he was charged with dealing in methamphetamine as a Class A felony in Case No. 152. The charges in Case No. 127 stem from a stop by police investigating vehicle break-ins. Aslinger and his friend Geoffrey Fugate were standing near a street where the cars were located and fit the description provided by dispatch. The officer saw a rolled cigarette behind Aslinger’s ear, which he said was “B2,” a form of synthetic drug Spice. A witness saw the two and said they were not the men who broke into the vehicles. By this time, the officer had searched Aslinger’s pockets because he saw a knife and found drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine. He also tested the cigarette and found it to be marijuana.

While on bond for Case No. 127, Aslinger was arrested for making meth within 1,000 feet of a public park.

He was convicted in separate trials, but sentenced together to 32 years for the dealing charge, enhanced by five years for the habitual substance offender adjudication. In the other case, he received a total of seven years, which included a five-and-a-half-year enhancement for being adjudicated as a habitual substance offender.

In Johnathon R. Aslinger v. State of Indiana, 35A02-1303-CR-296, the judges reversed his convictions in Case No. 127, finding the officer’s conduct went beyond what is allowed during a Terry stop. Judge Patricia Riley noted that a hand-rolled cigarette is not illegal per se and the officer only deduced there was a drug in it after removing it from Aslinger’s ear.

The judges also held that the trial court erred in imposing consecutive HSO enhancements in the two cases. On remand, they instructed the court to order the enhancements be served concurrently.

The appellate judges affirmed Aslinger’s dealing conviction, finding no error in the trial court’s decision to refuse to submit his tendered jury instruction asking the jury to find his conviction should not have been enhanced to a Class A felony. They also affirmed his sentence on the dealing conviction.

Judge Margret Robb concurred in a separate opinion, noting she believed the majority’s statement of law applicable to the plain view doctrine is too broad.
 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

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