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Mcneal v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

November 14, 2016

William McNeal, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

         Appeal from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Shannon L. Logsdon, Judge Pro Tempore Trial Court Cause No. 49G21-1509-F5-31039

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Bernice A. N. Corley Marion County Public Defender Agency Appellate Panel Attorney Indianapolis, Indiana.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Gregory F. Zoeller Attorney General of Indiana George P. Sherman Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

          CRONE, JUDGE.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] William McNeal appeals his conviction for level 5 felony possession of cocaine, following a bench trial. He contends that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence that he claims was obtained in violation of his rights pursuant to the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. Finding no federal or state constitutional violation, and therefore no abuse of discretion, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] On August 28, 2015, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Aaron Helton was on routine patrol near East 10th Street and Gray Road in Marion County, when he noticed a man lying face down on the sidewalk. A crowd was starting to form around the man. Officer Helton alerted dispatch that he was going to stop and perform a welfare check on the man. When Officer Helton got close to the man, who was later identified as "Kemo, " he observed that Kemo was sweating and he could not tell if Kemo was breathing. Tr. at 16. Officer Helton attempted to shake Kemo to rouse him, but Kemo was unresponsive. Officer Helton immediately called for medical personnel to come to the scene.

         [¶3] Around the same time that medics arrived, another man, later identified as McNeal, approached Officer Helton saying, "That's my bro, let's go, let's go." Id. at 14. Officer Helton observed that McNeal had an "[u]nsteady gait, like not really walking straight …." Id. McNeal was sweating profusely, his eyes were "reddish, "glassy, " and "glazed over, " his speech was "kind of slurred, " and it appeared to Officer Helton like McNeal's heart "was beating out of his chest. He just looked like he was in dire straits medically." Id. at 14, 22, 31. Officer Helton asked McNeal who he was, and McNeal gave him his identification. As Kemo started to wake up, McNeal kept saying, "We got to go, let's get out of here, let's go." Id. at 16. McNeal began speaking "gibberish" and things that "didn't make sense, " and then he tripped and fell over Kemo. Id. at 16, 28-29.

         [¶4] Believing that McNeal was also in need of medical treatment, Officer Helton advised McNeal, "Why don't you sit down, why don't you stay seated, why don't you sit down." Id. at 17. McNeal refused, saying, "No, I got to go, let's get out of here." Id. Officer Helton stated, "No, man, you look like you need some medical attention, why don't you sit down." Id. As McNeal tried to get up, he fell back down again. Worried about McNeal's safety and his medical condition, Officer Helton decided to handcuff McNeal because he did not believe that he would otherwise be able to "keep [McNeal] there" and seated until more medics could arrive. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Davey Williams arrived on the scene and observed that McNeal, who was sitting on the ground, was "kind of like leaning over" and having trouble remaining in an upright position. Id. at 42. Officer Williams used his legs to "prop [McNeal] up" so that he did not fall and hit his head on the sidewalk. Id. at 51.

         [¶5] A second group of medics arrived. After evaluating Kemo and McNeal, the medics determined that both of them were in "bad shape" and needed to be transported to the hospital. Id. at 18. Before McNeal was transported, Officer Helton ran a check on his identification and discovered that he had an outstanding arrest warrant. During a subsequent search incident to arrest, Officer Helton discovered three baggies of cocaine in McNeal's front right pants pocket. McNeal was transported by ambulance to a hospital emergency room.

         [¶6] The State charged McNeal with level 5 felony possession of cocaine. McNeal filed a motion to suppress alleging that his detention by police was unconstitutional, and therefore all evidence subsequently obtained should be suppressed. The trial court denied the motion to suppress and held a bench trial on March 14, 2016. McNeal renewed his objection to the admission of the cocaine evidence during trial. At the conclusion of the trial, the court found McNeal guilty as charged. This appeal ensued.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶7] McNeal asserts that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting the cocaine evidence at trial. "Our review of rulings on the admissibility of evidence is essentially the same whether the challenge is made by a pre-trial motion to suppress or by trial objection." Lundquist v. State, 834 N.E.2d 1061, 1067 (Ind.Ct.App. 2005). "We do not reweigh the evidence, and we consider conflicting evidence most favorable to the trial court's ruling." Id. We must also consider the uncontested evidence favorable to the defendant. Id. We will not disturb the trial court's evidentiary ruling unless it is shown that the trial court's decision is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances before the court. Turner v. State, 953 ...


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