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Vaughn v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

July 15, 2014

ANTONIO L. VAUGHN, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee-Plaintiff

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APPEAL FROM THE VIGO SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Michael Rader, Judge. Cause No. 84D05-1204-FA-1281.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: KIMBERLY A. JACKSON, Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana; BRIAN REITZ, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

KIRSCH, Judge. BAILEY, J., and MAY, J., concur.

OPINION

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KIRSCH, Judge.

Antonio L. Vaughn was convicted after a jury trial of two counts of dealing in cocaine,[1] each as a Class A felony, and one count of maintaining a common nuisance,[2] a Class D felony, and was sentenced to an aggregate term of forty years with twenty years suspended and twenty years executed. He appeals, raising the following restated issues for our review:

I. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted videos of the controlled drug buys, still photographs from the videos, recordings of telephone calls arranging the buys, and statements made by the confidential informant (" the CI" ) because such evidence violated Vaughn's right to confront witnesses under the Sixth Amendment as the CI did not testify;
II. Whether the trial court abused its discretion in admitting the cocaine, the chain of custody report, and testimony by the lead officer;
III. Whether the trial court abused its discretion in instructing the jury regarding the presumption of innocence,

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the burden of proof, Vaughn's decision not to testify, and the jury's right to decide the law and the facts;
IV. Whether sufficient evidence was presented to support Vaughn's convictions; and
V. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it sentenced Vaughn.

We affirm and remand with instructions.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On February 28, 2012, the CI contacted Detective Martin Dooley of the Terre Haute Police Department Drug Task Force about performing a controlled buy of narcotics from Vaughn. Detective Dooley set up a time and place for the CI to meet him, and the two met at the prearranged location. Detective Dooley searched the CI, including his pockets, jacket, shirt, pants, shoes, socks, mouth, ears, and any place where narcotics could have been hidden. The detective also had the CI pull his underwear out from his body and shake them to ensure there was nothing hidden inside.

Detective Dooley had the CI make a telephone call to Vaughn, and the CI and Vaughn discussed where to meet. The detective drove the CI to the agreed-upon location and gave the CI $100 in cash and outfitted him with an audio/visual recording device. The CI exited the vehicle and walked to Vaughn's apartment building, where the CI met Vaughn and handed him the money. Vaughn walked inside the apartment building, came back outside with his hand cupped, met the CI, and the two engaged in a hand-to-hand exchange. The CI then walked back to the police vehicle where he was again searched, and Detective Dooley retrieved a substance that was later identified as crack cocaine from the CI. During this controlled buy, the officers involved watched the CI and confirmed that he did not have any contact with anyone else other than Vaughn.

On March 1, 2012, the CI again contacted Detective Dooley about performing another controlled buy from Vaughn. Detective Dooley proceeded in the same manner as before: the officer arranged a meeting place with the CI, Detective Dooley searched the CI, the CI called Vaughn to set up the transaction, the officers gave the CI $100 in cash, and they placed a recording device on the CI. The officers drove the CI to near Vaughn's apartment building, and the CI exited the vehicle and walked towards Vaughn's apartment. The CI stood outside of the building, and Vaughn pulled up in a green van. The CI entered the van, the van drove around the block, and the CI exited approximately one minute later. The CI walked back to the officers' vehicle, where he was again searched, and gave the officers a substance that was later identified as crack cocaine. During this controlled buy, the officers maintained visual contact with the CI, except for the time that he was inside of the van, and the CI did not come into contact with any other person besides Vaughn.

After each of the controlled buys, Detective Dooley retrieved the cocaine from the CI. Detective Dooley field tested the substance and placed it in a sealed bag; he then placed the sealed bag in the Terre Haute Police Department's evidence locker. The cocaine was later sent to the Indiana State Police (" ISP" ) Laboratory and placed in the ISP's secured evidence vault. ISP forensic scientist Brandy Cline requested that an evidence clerk remove the cocaine from the evidence vault. When she received the evidence, Cline first checked to make sure the contents matched the description. She stated she would not accept evidence that was not

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sealed. Cline tested the evidence, and both samples tested positive for cocaine, one weighing 0.64 grams and one weighing 0.42 grams. Trial Tr . 398, 402.

The State charged Vaughn with two counts of Class A felony dealing in cocaine and one count of Class D felony maintaining a common nuisance. At trial, Vaughn objected to the jury instructions regarding the presumption of innocence, the explanation of the State's burden of proof, his decision not to testify, and the jury's right to decide the law and the facts. All of his objections were overruled. At the conclusion of the trial, Vaughn was found guilty as charged. The trial court sentenced Vaughn to forty years for each of his dealing in cocaine convictions and three years for his maintaining a common nuisance conviction, with the sentences to run concurrently with each other, for an aggregate sentence of forty years. Vaughn was ordered to serve twenty years executed in the Department of Correction, and twenty years was suspended to probation. Vaughn now appeals.

DISCUSSION AND DECISION

I. Confrontation Clause

Generally, we review the trial court's ruling on the admission of evidence for an abuse of discretion. Jones v. State, 982 N.E.2d 417, 421 (Ind.Ct.App. 2013), trans. denied (citing Noojin v. State, 730 N.E.2d 672, 676 (Ind. 2000)). We reverse only where the decision is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances. Id. Even if the trial court's decision was an abuse of discretion, we will not reverse if the admission constituted harmless error. Id.

Vaughn argues that the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted into evidence at trial videos of the controlled buys, still photographs taken from the videos, recordings of the telephone calls made to Vaughn to set up the transactions, and statements from the recordings. He contends that all of this evidence was inadmissible and highly prejudicial hearsay. Vaughn further claims that, because the CI did not testify at trial, the admission of this evidence violated Vaughn's right to confront witnesses against him as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and his right to a fair trial under the Due Process Clause.

The Confrontation Clause is embodied in the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and prohibits the admission of an out-of-court statement if it is testimonial, the declarant is unavailable, and the defendant had no prior opportunity to cross-examine the declarant. Lane v. State, 997 N.E.2d 83, 92 (Ind.Ct.App. 2013) (citing King v. State, 985 N.E.2d 755 (Ind.Ct.App. 2013), trans. denied ), trans. denied . The Confrontation Clause " does not bar the use of testimonial statements for purposes other than establishing the truth of the matter asserted." Williams v. State, 930 N.E.2d 602, 607 (Ind.Ct.App. 2010) (quoting Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 59 n.9, 124 S.Ct. 1354, 158 L.Ed.2d 177 (2004)), trans. denied . Therefore, if a statement is either nontestimonial or nonhearsay, the federal Confrontation Clause will not bar its admissibility at trial. Id. at 607-08. Hearsay is a statement, not made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Ind. Evidence Rule 801(c). Statements not admitted to prove the truth of the matter are not hearsay and do not run afoul of ...


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