A man who was convicted of drug-dealing charges and sentenced to 12 years in prison won a reversal Wednesday because his trial was wrongly continued when the state could not timely produce lab results. The appellate court noted a lengthy prosecutorial delay in providing the evidence for lab testing was to blame.
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed enhanced convictions of Level 2 felony dealing in methamphetamine, two counts of Level 5 felony possession of a narcotic, and Level 5 felony dealing in marijuana in Kyle Scott Dilley v. State of Indiana, 19A-CR-173.
Kyle Dilley had been arrested by Michigan City police who found him and another person asleep in a car with a stash of drugs including meth, heroin and marijuana. A jury ultimately convicted him, and his convictions were enhanced due to a prior heroin dealing charge.
The appellate panel tossed the convictions, however, holding that Dilley had shown prima facie error by the LaPorte Superior Court for granting the state a continuance under Trial Rule 4(D), which resulted in failing to bring him to trial within a year of the filing of criminal charges.
Judge Patricia Riley noted that Dilley had moved for a speedy trial at his earliest opportunity and was not to blame for a continuance granted to the state because lab tests on the drugs were not finished in time. “The prosecutor further averred that she had contacted Dilley’s counsel to attempt to procure a stipulation to the preliminary drug testing results already disclosed but that Dilley had declined to stipulate,” Riley wrote.
“… At the final pre-trial conference on May 31, 2018, the prosecutor informed the trial court that the only matter ‘outstanding’ for trial preparation was the test results,” Riley continued. “In her Rule 4(D) continuance motion filed June 1, 2018, a mere seventeen days before trial, the prosecutor averred that the continuance was necessary because the testing results were ‘not yet prepared,’” Judge Patricia Riley wrote for the panel.
“In her argument at the hearing on the continuance motion, the prosecutor represented to the trial court that she had personally contacted the director of the laboratory ‘to confirm that the lab results would be back by June 19th’. … The implication of these statements was that testing was already underway. The prosecutor did not inform the trial court in either her written or oral motions that the evidence had not been conveyed to the State Laboratory for testing and was, in fact, not conveyed until June 4, 2018, after the written continuance motion was filed. This was a fact that had to have been known to the prosecutor when she argued the continuance motion on June 5, 2018, and which she should have made known to the trial court before it rendered its ruling.
“… (W)e conclude that Dilley has demonstrated that the trial court’s grant of the Rule 4(D) continuance under the facts and circumstances of this case constituted prima facie error,” the panel concluded.