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Justices take drug-buy sting appeal

July 21, 2015

The Indiana Supreme Court will review the conviction of a man arrested after authorities set up controlled cocaine purchases from him.

Justices granted transfer last week in Wenzel Williams v. State of Indiana, 48S05-1507-CR-424. Williams was convicted of two Class B felony counts of dealing cocaine after a confidential informant purchased cocaine from him on separate occasions while a detective witnessed the buys.

Williams argues his convictions should be reversed for several reasons. He claims prosecutorial misconduct, abuse of discretion by the trial court for rejecting his motion for continuance the morning of his jury trial, and for limiting his cross-examination of the criminal informant.

The Court of Appeals affirmed Williams’ conviction. His prosecutorial misconduct argument asserted that the state’s declaration that drugs were a serious problem was an attempt to persuade the jury to convict Williams for a reason other than guilt. The appeals court, though, found no misconduct amounting to reversible error, ruling this was a response to a defense counsel request for jury nullification on the basis that Williams was an addict and his small-time drug deals didn’t warrant punishment.

The Williams appeal was the lone case granted transfer out of two dozen petitions justices ruled on last week. Supreme Court transfer dispositions may be viewed here.

Justices last week also declined to hear the appeal of former Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White’s convictions of voter fraud, theft and perjury.
 

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