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Mail not hearsay, COA rules in affirming drug, gun convictions

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A Fort Wayne man’s convictions on multiple cocaine-dealing and felony weapons charges were affirmed Tuesday after the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled on an issue of first impression, indicating that he was not prejudiced by mail. Lamont Carpenter asserted the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted mail containing his name and address because it was hearsay.

Carpenter also claimed on appeal that the trial court improperly bifurcated his trial on a weapons charge and that simultaneous convictions of possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and possession of a handgun with altered identifying marks exposed him to double jeopardy.

Fort Wayne police executed a search warrant in January 2013 on Carpenter’s apartment after a confidential informant made controlled buys of cocaine on multiple occasions. Police found about 100 grams each of cocaine and marijuana, a semiautomatic pistol with the serial number removed, and about $1,400 in cash.

A jury convicted Carpenter of five counts of Class A felony dealing in cocaine, Class B felony unlawful possession of a handgun by a serious violent felon, Class C felony possession of a handgun with altered identifying marks, and Class D felony possession of marijuana.

“Carpenter argues that, because the jury received the statutory citation for possession of a firearm by an SVF, his trial was not completely bifurcated, which prejudiced him. We disagree,” Judge Melissa May wrote for the panel in Lamont Carpenter v. State of Indiana, 02A05-1309-CR-467.

Counsel for Carpenter argued that the judge gave jurors instructions that cited the statute, I.C. 35-47-4-5, which referred to serious violent felons. This could have prejudiced Carpenter if jurors looked up the statute. May, however, wrote the that judge had warned jurors against doing their own research, and evidence showed the jury didn’t know he was a serious violent felon.

“Carpenter has not demonstrated he was prejudiced by the partial bifurcation of his trial,” the panel wrote.

Neither was Carpenter biased by mail with his name and address that was admitted after police collected it during the search. The panel held the mail was not hearsay.

“While this is an issue of first impression in Indiana, a majority of the courts from other states that have considered the issue have held the prohibition against the admission of hearsay is not violated when mail found during an investigation is introduced at trial to demonstrate the defendant’s name and address were on mail found in a specific location,” May wrote, citing authority from Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.

Finally, the court concluded, “Carpenter was not subjected to double jeopardy when he was convicted of possession of a firearm by a SVF and possession of a handgun with altered identifying marks."
 

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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