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Majority reverses conviction based on meth manufacturing

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A divided Indiana Court of Appeals has determined that the state can’t use the amount of manufacturing materials and empty packets of ingredients at a person’s home to prove he was dealing in that substance, without clear evidence the drug would have been produced in that amount.

The ruling came in Douglas W. Fancil v. State of Indiana, No. 20A01-1107-CR-339, with the panel affirming and reversing in part a ruling by Elkhart Circuit Judge Terry Shewmaker.

Douglas W. Fancil appeals his jury conviction for Class A felony dealing with methamphetamine, based on the police finding no meth in his residence and the prosecutor’s reliance on the amount of manufacturing materials and his past history of buying pseudoephedrine as key evidence. At trial, the state called a detective experienced in meth manufacturing to testify about the process and prove that Fancil manufactured the pseudoephedrine into three or more grams of meth.

At the end of the trial, the court instructed the jury on both Class A felony dealing in meth and Class B felony dealing in meth as a lesser-included offense. But the court refused to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of possession of reagents or precursors with intent to manufacture methamphetamine. The jury found Fancil guilty and he received a 48-year prison sentence, with four years suspended to probation.

On appeal, the panel found the evidence was insufficient to support the conclusion that Fancil manufactured three or more grams of meth. But the judges found no other error.

Relying on its decision in Halferty v. State, 930 N.E.2d 1149, 1153 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010), that involved similar facts, the appellate panel determined that the police detective’s testimony could not be included because it was not conclusive about how much meth could have been made from the materials in the residence. The Supreme Court denied transfer in that case, and Halferty’s conviction was reversed.

In this case, a two-judge majority remanded the case with instructions to enter a conviction for Class B felony dealing in meth with an appropriate sentence.

Judge L. Mark Bailey disagreed with his colleagues Judges John Baker and Carr Darden, finding the evidence was sufficient to conclude what the state charged. He disagreed that the Halferty precedent applies to these facts and that the police detective’s testimony was more conclusive here than it was in that earlier case. As a result, he would have affirmed the trial court because a reasonable inference that Fancil produced three or more grams of meth was possible.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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