Four of the five Indiana Supreme Court justices decided that the man found asleep in the waiting room of a dental office – who had an empty handgun on him – should only be sentenced to 20 years for the crime instead of 40 years.
Staff at a dentist’s office found Glenn Carpenter in their waiting room and called police after they couldn’t wake him. He smelled of alcohol. The police were able to wake him up; Carpenter didn’t know how he got in the dentist’s office. Police found an unloaded handgun, marijuana, cocaine, and a crack pipe on him.
A jury found him guilty of Class B felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon; Carpenter pleaded guilty to the habitual offender count. He appealed his 40-year sentence – 20 years on the felony conviction and 20 years for the habitual offender finding – which a divided Indiana Court of Appeals upheld.
Addressing only his sentence in its decision July 21, the majority decided that based on Carpenter’s criminal history and the fact he pleaded guilty to the habitual offender finding, his sentence should be reduced to 20 years.
The gun Carpenter had on him was unloaded and he never threatened anyone. While he is not a model citizen and has had numerous run-ins with the law, his crimes don’t justify the 40-year sentence, wrote Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard in Glenn Carpenter v. State of Indiana, No. 49S02-1104-CR-198. The justices ordered his sentence be revised to 10 years on the Class B felony and 10 years for the habitual offender conviction.
Justice Brent Dickson dissented because Carpenter’s case was not an “exceptional or rare case justifying appellate intrusion” into a trial court’s sentence.