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Cocaine dealing conviction affirmed over jury instruction challenge

October 6, 2015

A man convicted of dealing cocaine failed to persuade the Indiana Court of Appeals to reverse due to what he claimed was an erroneous jury instruction.

Jermaine McKinley was found guilty of the Class A felony by a Marion County jury that was instructed that in order to convict him, the jury would have to find McKinley knowingly possessed the drug with intent to deliver. McKinley argued the state failed to prove that he knowingly intended to deliver the drug on the basis of his mental state.

Because McKinley’s defense counsel didn’t object to the instruction at trial, he is required on appeal to show fundamental error, which Judge Margret Robb wrote isn’t the case.

“(W)e believe the instructions in the present case sufficiently inform the jury of the requirement of intent to deliver,” Robb wrote in Jermaine McKinley v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1502-CR-78.

 “Under the facts of this case, intent to deliver was the central issue at trial. Although defining ‘intent to deliver’ may have been preferable, terms in common use that can be understood by a person of ordinary intelligence do not always need to be defined. … Reading the jury instructions as a whole and in the context of all the information given to the jury, we cannot say the instructions were misleading regarding the requirement of intent to deliver. Accordingly, we find no fundamental error in the trial court’s instruction of the jury.”




 

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