IN justices grant transfer in Decatur County meth possession case

  • Print
The Indiana Supreme Court bench in the Indiana Statehouse (IL file photo)

Indiana Supreme Court justices have agreed to consider a case in which a Decatur County man is challenging his conviction and habitual offender enhancement for felony possession of methamphetamine.

The case — Zachary A. Woodward v. State of Indiana, 23S-CR-315 — was the only one granted transfer for the week ending Nov. 17.

In August, the Court of Appeals of Indiana affirmed the Decatur Superior Court’s ruling that Zachary Woodward had not sustained his burden of establishing that his sentence is inappropriate in light of the nature of his offenses and his character.

Woodward was arrested after he failed to appear for a March 2021 court hearing. He was discovered by police in a storage unit, smelling like marijuana and possibly possessing meth.

In subsequent searches of his home, tattoo parlor and his mother’s residence, officers found more drugs, drug paraphernalia, a disassembled shotgun, a modified shotgun and ammunition.

Woodward admitted he was not legally allowed to possess firearms. However, he told police that he believed he was allowed to be in possession of pieces of a firearm as long as the pieces were not assembled, and that a friend had asked him to artistically embellish the stock of one of the weapons.

The state charged Woodward with possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon as a Level 4 felony, possession of meth as a Level 5 felony and possession of marijuana as a Class A misdemeanor. A jury found him guilty as charged and also found him to be a habitual offender.

Woodward’s conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon was overturned in May 2022 after the Court of Appeals ruled that a defendant having the same name as a person convicted in a previous drug case was not enough to sustain a conviction as a serious violent felon.

On remand, the trial court resentenced Woodward to six years for Level 5 felony possession of meth, enhanced by four years for the habitual offender enhancement.

The high court granted transfer Nov. 13.

Oral arguments in the Woodward case are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Jan. 11, 2024, and will be conducted in the Indiana Supreme Court Courtroom in the Indiana Statehouse.

The justices denied transfer to 15 cases for the week ending Nov. 17, including one involving a woman who suffered an injury to her lower back during the course of and arising out of her employment with Franciscan Health.

In Angela Santos v. Franciscan Health, the Worker’s Compensation Board of Indiana erred when it dismissed Angela Santos’ claim as untimely, the Court of Appeals ruled in reversing and remanding the board’s order.

All justices concurred in denying transfer in that case except for Justices Mark Massa and Geoffrey Slaughter, who voted to grant the transfer petition.

The justices also split in denying transfer to Mario Lashuan Hollins v. State of Indiana, with Chief Justice Loretta Rush voting in favor of transfer.

Hollins had appealed the Lake Superior Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling, finding that appellate counsel was not ineffective for failing to proffer an argument based on an inaccurate reading of Hollins’ plea agreement.

Finally, Rush and Justice Christopher Goff voted to grant transfer to Jason Hankins v. State of Indiana, where the Court of Appeals affirmed Jason Hankins’ child molesting conviction.

The full list of transfer decisions is available here.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets on
{{ count_down }}