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Court of Appeals to hear appeals in Grant, Knox counties this week

February 18, 2019

The Indiana Court of Appeals will travel to the northern and southern parts of the state this week to hear oral arguments in two cases, one involving murder and the other involving drug possession.

The traveling appellate panel of judges John Baker, Margret Robb and Rudy Pyle will first hear the case of Akram Abd v. State of Indiana, 18A-CR-00780, at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Taylor University in Grant County. Akram Abd is appealing his convictions for murder and felony robbery, arguing the state presented insufficient circumstantial evidence to convict him.

Abd also contends the Marion Superior Court committed fundamental error when it failed to instruct the jury that the state had to overcome every reasonable theory of innocence. Finally, he argues the state erroneously proffered evidence about his smoking habits and living style, claiming the prejudicial effect of such evidence outweighed its probative value.

The appellate panel will consider the determination of the proper use of the reasonable theory of innocence and whether the actions taken by the trial court and the state constituted fundamental error. The argument will be heard at the university’s Alspaugh East and West, Hodson Dining Commons, 236 W. Reade Ave., Upland, 46989.

Then on Thursday, a panel of judges Baker, L. Mark Bailey and Melissa May will hear Zachary J. Taylor v. State of Indiana, 18A-CR-01757, at 1 p.m. at Vincennes University in Knox County. That case began when, after receiving an anonymous tip of drug activity at Zachary Taylor’s home, officers approached the door and looked through a small gap left by the window’s closed blinds. Inside they saw two individuals with a smoking device commonly associated with drug use. The officers then applied for a search warrant without conducting a “knock and talk.”

Taylor appeals his convictions for Level 5 felony possession of methamphetamine and Level 6 felony possession of marijuana. He argues the officers violated his Fourth Amendment and Article 1, Section 11 rights because the information they received and relied upon to obtain the search warrant constituted an illegal search, and thus any evidence collected thereafter was fruit of the poisonous tree. 

The state, however, claims the officers’ actions were not a search, instead claiming the information obtained from looking through the gap in the window was in "open view."

The Thursday argument will be heard at Vincennes University’s Red Skelton Theater, 1002 N. First St., Vincennes, 47591.

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