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

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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."


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.