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Police had reasonable suspicion to stop men, search bag

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The Indiana Court of Appeals disagreed with an appellant who claimed police did not have reasonable suspicion to believe he and two other men were involved in criminal activity, which led to their stop and his eventual conviction of Class A felony attempted dealing in methamphetamine.

Robert Dunlap called police in August 2011 after he believed someone was living in one of the storage units he owned in Elkhart County. Sergeant Michael McHenry and Officer Dustin Lundgren responded and saw three men, including Kevin Clark, leaving the storage unit. Clark was carrying a duffel bag. Police ordered the men to stop, and Clark sat the bag on the ground.

McHenry asked if Clark had anything illegal in the bag; he admitted that it contained marijuana. McHenry then searched the bag without a warrant or Clark’s consent and found the drug, baggies of methamphetamine, pills and other paraphernalia. This led to a search of Clark’s car by a drug-sniffing dog. Police found marijuana in the car and an inactive methamphetamine lab inside the trunk. Trooper Maggie Shortt processed the lab.

Clark claimed police didn’t have reasonable suspicion to believe criminal activity as afoot at the storage unit, but the judges pointed out Dunlap called police because he thought a rental agreement was being violated by someone living in the unit. That report gave officers reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, which justified stopping Clark, Judge Melissa May wrote in Kevin M. Clark v. State of Indiana, 20A05-1202-CR-62.

Clark admitted he had marijuana in the bag, which gave McHenry probable cause to search it. The trial court didn’t abuse its discretion in admitting the items found in it.

The judges also upheld Shortt’s testimony as to how much methamphetamine Clark possessed. She testified as to the conversion ration of pseudoephedrine to methamphetamine. Her testimony was opinion testimony of a lay person based on her experience, not expert testimony, May wrote. Her testimony could reasonably assist the jury in deciding whether Clark possessed the component to produce more than three grams of methamphetamine, the threshold needed to convict him of the Class A felony charge.

 

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  • No probable cause
    This story is incomplete, were the men there illrgally or had the rented the unit which if so means that they were there illegally and the police had no business there in the first place and they should have inquired of this fact from the caller.

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  1. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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