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Supreme Court grants 2 transfers

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The state's highest court has agreed to hear a case dealing with Indiana's habitual offender statute and another case involving the requirements for a cheek-swab DNA test.

In Andre Syval Peoples v. State of Indiana, No. 79S02-0912-CR-549, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded a trial court was correct in interpreting the habitual offender statute to include Andre People's instant conviction of Class B felony dealing in cocaine as one of the "unrelated" convictions referred to in the statute. Peoples pleaded guilty to the dealing charge and had two prior felony convictions in Illinois - forgery and possession of cocaine with intent to deliver.

Peoples argued the habitual offender enhancement can't be attached to his instant conviction under Indiana Code Section 35-50-2-8(b)(3) of the habitual offender statute because his instant conviction is a drug offense, satisfying subsection (b)(3)(A). Also, he argued his number of priors for dealing doesn't exceed one, which satisfies subsection (b)(3)(C)(i)-(v) of the statute.

The judges agreed with the state's argument that the statute isn't limited to only prior convictions but requires the summation of the total number of unrelated convictions a defendant has gotten for dealing drugs. The absence of the word "prior" from those two subsections reflects legislative intent to include the instant conviction as one of the "unrelated" convictions referred to in those subsections, the appellate court ruled.

In Arturo Garcia-Torres v. State of Indiana, No. 64S03-0912-CR-550, the Court of Appeals split in its ruling that taking a cheek swab for DNA testing requires only reasonable suspicion, not probable cause, under the federal and state constitutions. The majority determined police didn't need a warrant before obtaining the cheek swab for Arturo Garcia-Torres, who was later convicted of rape, burglary, and attempted rape in the attacks of two college students, because they had reasonable suspicion he committed them.

The majority also reasoned that getting the cheek swab involves much less impact on the subject than some other searches that may be conducted on mere reasonable suspicion.

Judge Terry Crone argued in his dissent that taking the swab from a custodial suspect requires probable cause under the Fourth Amendment and is subject to the advice-of-counsel requirements of Pirtle v. State, 263 Ind. 16, 323 N.E.2d 634 (1975).

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