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Man’s conviction from controlled drug buy upheld

April 30, 2015

An Anderson man who was criminally convicted for selling drugs to a confidential informant waived both his arguments on appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday. And, the judges found no fundamental error in a jury instruction given or the admission of cash found on the defendant by police.

David Trueblood offered to serve as a confidential informant and conduct a controlled drug buy from Bruce Evans after Trueblood’s sister-in-law overdosed in the house where Evans lived. The controlled buy took place the same day as Trueblood’s sister-in-law’s overdose. After the heroin buy was completed, police got a search warrant for the house, arrested Evans and found nearly $1,800 in cash on him, including the $80 used in the controlled drug purchase.

Evans was convicted of Class B felony dealing in a narcotic drug and pleaded guilty to begin a habitual substance offender. At his trial, several people testified, including Trueblood’s sister-in-law, that they had purchased heroin from Evans the same day as the controlled drug buy. Evans also sought to exclude from evidence any money found on him that wasn’t from the controlled drug buy, but the trial court denied his motion.

Evans did not object to any proposed jury instructions, but in Bruce Angelo Evans v. State of Indiana, 48A02-1407-CR-496, he raised the argument that the jury unanimity instruction should have mentioned that the jurors had to rely on the same sale of heroin to support his conviction. Because multiple people testified that they also purchased drugs from him that day, it is unclear what sale the jury relied on.

But since he didn’t object at trial, the COA evaluated the argument using the fundamental error doctrine. Although there was evidence of other drug sales and the state mentioned those sales in its arguments, the overwhelming evidence focused on the controlled buy, Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote. She did suggest in the future that the state be more specific in its charging information as to which act is the basis of the charge.

And Evans waived his argument on appeal regarding the admission of the cash found on him at his arrest. The trial court denied his motion in limine regarding the admission of that evidence. Evans also did not object to the testimony of a detective regarding the additional money found on him, but he later objected when a picture of the cash was admitted as evidence. This latter objection is insufficient to preserve the error on appeal, the COA held.

Waiver notwithstanding, any error in admitting this evidence was harmless based on other evidence admitted at his trial.

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