The Indiana Court of Appeals Thursday affirmed the 25-year sentence handed down to a man whose erratic driving led police to pull his vehicle over and discover cocaine on the passenger. The judges found his right to a fast and speedy trial was not violated and the evidence supports that he jointly possessed the cocaine.
When police pulled over James Littrell’s minivan, they discovered Littrell’s passenger, Jackie Rumler, had a bag of cocaine in her shorts. Littrell denied that he purchased the drug but admitted to using it earlier in the day. A drug test found cocaine in his system.
He was charged with possession of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school as a Class B felony and other charges. He pleaded guilty to those charges, with the exception of the possession charge and being a habitual offender. He requested a speedy trial on those charges. The state sought an extension within the 90-day period because it was waiting on a blood test. The trial date was set for 112 days after the extension was granted and 152 days after Littrell’s original request.
He argued in James S. Littrell v. State of Indiana, 79A02-1401-CR-24, that the extension was calculated from the wrong starting date, but the appellate court said his right to a fast and speedy trial was not violated because the trial was set within the 90-day extension. The extension begins at the expiration of the original 70-day time period, the judges held, based on the Criminal Rule 4(D)’s use of the phrase “additional ninety (90) days.”
The judges also found his actions and statements lead to a reasonable inference he jointly possessed the cocaine. He admitted he had “shared the baggy” with Rumler, had handled it, and told her to put the baggy in her clothing.
“Littrell clearly had knowledge of the drugs’ location because he told the officers about the cocaine. Based on this evidence, a reasonable fact-finder could conclude that Littrell was in constructive possession of the cocaine,” Judge John Baker wrote.
The judges also found his aggregate 25-year sentence to be appropriate given his criminal history, threats made to the arresting officers, past drug use and failure to complete drug treatment programs.
The COA remanded for correction of his guilty plea and sentencing orders because they show that Littrell pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while having a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance in the body as a felony, when in fact the offense is a misdemeanor.