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Williams v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 31, 2015

Wenzel Williams, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff,

Page 145

Appeal from the Madison Circuit Court. Honorable David A. Happe, Judge. Trial Case No. 48C04-1402-FB-192.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: David W. Stone, IV, Anderson, Indiana.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana; Eric P. Babbs, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Robb, Judge. Bailey, J., and Brown, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 146

Robb, Judge.

Case Summary and Issues

[¶ 1] Following a jury trial, Wenzel Williams was convicted of two counts of dealing in cocaine, both Class B felonies. He raises four issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court abused its discretion by denying Williams's motion for continuance on the morning of his jury trial; (2) whether the trial court abused its discretion by limiting Williams's cross-examination of the State's confidential informant; (3) whether the trial court abused its discretion by allowing a police officer to testify that he witnessed Williams participate in a drug transaction; and (4) whether the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument. Concluding none of Williams's issues require reversal, we affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶ 2] Gayland Swaim began working with the Madison County Drug Task Force as a confidential informant in the spring of 2013. In April 2013, Swaim told law enforcement that he believed he could purchase crack cocaine from a person nicknamed " Bear," who was later identified as Williams, and the officers proceeded to carry out two controlled buys with Williams.

[¶ 3] On April 11, 2013, Swaim called Williams to finalize plans for a drug transaction. After searching Swaim and finding no drugs or money, Detective Keith Gaskill, acting as an undercover officer, provided Swaim with money and drove him to meet Williams. Swaim exited the vehicle and conducted a hand-to-hand exchange with Williams approximately ten yards away from Detective Gaskill. Williams and Swaim then entered Detective Gaskill's vehicle together, and Detective Gaskill drove Williams to a nearby residence. After they dropped off Williams, Swaim provided Detective Gaskill with crack cocaine purchased from Williams.

[¶ 4] On April 23, 2013, a second controlled buy was arranged between Swaim

Page 147

and Williams. Detective Gaskill searched Swaim, provided him with buy money, and drove him to meet Williams at the residence where they had dropped off Williams after the previous controlled buy. Swaim went inside the residence for approximately five minutes and returned to the vehicle along with Williams. Detective Gaskill drove to a local barbershop, where Williams left briefly before returning to the vehicle and handing his cell phone to Swaim as collateral in exchange for the buy money. After getting the money from Swaim, Williams again left the vehicle and returned minutes later with a package which he gave to Swaim. The package Williams gave Swaim contained cocaine.

[¶ 5] On February 5, 2014, the State charged Williams with two counts of dealing in cocaine, both Class B felonies. On February 25, 2014, Williams's original public defender withdrew, and the trial court appointed a new public defender, Evan Broderick, to represent Williams. On March 12, 2014, the trial court granted Williams a continuance and set a trial date for May 20, 2014. On May 16, 2014, a hearing was held and the trial was continued due to court congestion. The trial date was rescheduled for June 11, 2014, after the trial court granted the State's request to expedite the trial to a first-choice setting on that date.

[¶ 6] Williams's jury trial was set to begin on June 11, 2014, and his defense attorney made an oral motion for a continuance that morning. Defense counsel argued a continuance was needed for two reasons: (1) the State gave Williams notice of an additional witness the day before trial and (2) he wished to depose Swaim and felt he had not had adequate time to prepare for trial. The trial court excluded the State's late witness but denied Williams's motion for continuance, and the trial proceeded as scheduled. The jury found Williams guilty of both counts, and he was sentenced to sixteen years on each count, to be served concurrently, with five years suspended to probation. This appeal followed.

Discussion and Decision

I. Motion for Continuance


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