Reversal: Consecutive sentences inappropriate in drug-dealing conspiracy case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed a man’s consecutive sentences for his conspiracy to commit dealing convictions after determining they were inappropriate.

Law enforcement arrested Jarmone Davis in 2015 after the Lafayette Police Department conducted several controlled buys of heroin with an undercover officer and unwitting informants.

During the various exchanges, officers continuously saw Davis dealing the drugs. During a subsequent traffic stop of the vehicle Davis was driving and another that had been seen at his apartment, police found hundreds of dollars in cash that included marked money from the controlled buys.

When police later executed a search warrant at the apartment, more than $7,000 in cash was recovered, a portion of which stemmed from the controlled buys. A scale with white residue, hydrocodone pills, 14.55 grams of heroin and a bottle of sleeping aid were also discovered. Additionally, $20,000 in cash was seized after officers listened to a jail phone call in which Davis said he had hidden money in the trunk of another vehicle.

Again in 2017, police conducted controlled buys of meth with Davis that resulted in the search of a different apartment, revealing $11,075 in cash, two digital scales and a bag containing 493 grams of meth.

Davis was ultimately convicted of Level 5 felony corrupt business influence, Level 2 felony conspiracy to commit dealing in a narcotic drug, Level 2 felony dealing in a narcotic drug, Level 3 felony possession of a narcotic drug, Level 2 felony conspiracy to commit dealing in methamphetamine and two counts of Level 2 felony dealing in methamphetamine. Due to double jeopardy concerns, the Tippecanoe Superior Court vacated Davis’ convictions of Level 2 felony dealing in a narcotic drug, Level 3 felony possession of a narcotic drug and two Counts of Level 2 felony dealing in methamphetamine. It then sentenced him to a 36-year executed sentence.

Davis appealed in Jarmone Darrell Davis v. State of Indiana, 19A-CR-1925, arguing the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that “there was a separate agreement for delivery of methamphetamine, and yet another agreement for delivery of heroin.”

A panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed that sufficient evidence existed to support Davis’ convictions for Level 2 felony counts of conspiracy to commit dealing in methamphetamine and narcotic drugs. It also rejected his argument that those separate convictions violated double jeopardy principles under the actual evidence test.

However, the appellate court found that under the circumstances, Davis’ consecutive sentences were inappropriate.

“Similar to the defendants in (Beno v. State, 581 N.E.2d 922 (Ind.1991)), (Hendrickson v. State, 690 N.E.2d 765, 767 (Ind. Ct. App. 1998)), and (Gregory v. State, 644 N.E.2d 543, 544 (Ind. 1994)), Davis was enticed by the police to make drug sales as part of a sting operation,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote for the appellate court. “While the drug buys happened over two years apart, which was not in close temporal proximity as the four days at issue in Beno, or the two-month period in Hendrickson, or the ten days at issue in Gregory, the clear import we gather … is that they require that the ‘sentences for each conviction arising from evidence seized after the State began sponsoring the criminal activity to run concurrently.’

“… In the instant case, we elect to impose a proper sentence pursuant to the cases cited, and order that Davis serve concurrent eighteen-year terms on the conspiracy to commit dealing in a narcotic drug and methamphetamine convictions with no sentence suspended. All other aspects of his sentence, including the six-year sentence for his Level 5 felony corrupt business influence conviction, are affirmed, and we remand to the trial court with instructions to enter a new sentencing order consistent with this opinion,” the appellate court concluded.

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