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Drug conviction reversed because state didn’t prove substance was heroin

May 26, 2015

Because police did not prove the product of a controlled drug buy was heroin, the Court of Appeals reversed a man’s conviction of Class A felony dealing in a narcotic within 1,000 feet of a school.

Ciji Angel, a previous confidential informant, contacted police and told them she had just purchased heroin from William Bowman. Detective Scott Phillips arranged for Angel to perform a controlled drug by from Bowman, who lived near an elementary school. Angel performed the buy and gave the substance to Phillips, who did not field test it or have it tested in a lab. Phillips testified that the drug “looked like heroin.”

Bowman was convicted of the Class A felony and was found to be a habitual offender. He appealed in William Bowman v. State of Indiana, 21A04-1404-CR-180.

The state was required to show that Bowman knowingly or intentionally possessed heroin within 1,000 feet of a school in order to convict him. But the drug was never tested, and other circumstantial evidence as well as testimony supporting how the detective could know the drug was heroin was never introduced in this case.

This requires reversal of Bowman’s conviction, as well as reversal of the finding he is a habitual offender, the COA held.

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