Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Whitenack v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 3, 2017

Richelle Marie Whitenack, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Huntington Superior Court The Hon. Jeffrey R. Heffelfinger, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 35D01-1511-F6-252

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Jeremy K. Nix Matheny, Hahn, Denman & Nix, L.L.P. Huntington, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Ian McLean Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Bradford, Judge.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] On November 17, 2015, Gail Whitenack ("Gail") searched her step-daughter Appellant-Defendant Richelle Marie Whitenack's vehicle while it was in Gail's driveway because Gail was concerned that Whitenack was using drugs. During her search, Gail found items that suggested that Whitenack was, in fact, using drugs. Gail called the police and told them what she had found. The police department subsequently issued a tip to its deputies which included a description of Whitenack's vehicle and the suspected drug related items.

         [¶2] Later that same day, Whitenack was pulled over for speeding and crossing the center line twice. The deputy radioed his location and a description of the vehicle when he realized that the vehicle he had pulled over matched the vehicle in the tip. One or two minutes later, the department's K9 officer arrived to the scene with his dog. The K9 officer and his dog walked around the vehicle while the deputy finished writing Whitenack's ticket. The dog indicated the presence of drugs in the vehicle which prompted the deputy and K9 officer to search the vehicle. During their search, the deputies discovered a split-box of syringes, wrapping from a coffee package, and a spoon with burnt residue. The residue on the spoon was later tested by the Indiana State Police Department laboratory which identified the residue as heroin. On November 24, 2015, the State of Indiana (the "State") filed charges against Whitenack for: Count 1, unlawful possession of a hypodermic syringe; Count 2, possession of paraphernalia; Count 3, driving left of the center lane; and Count 4, exceeding the posted speed limit. Whitenack was found guilty as charged following a bench trial and was sentenced to one year executed, one year suspended and one-half year of probation for Count 1, sixty days executed for Count 2, and fines of $10.00 each for Counts 3 and 4. The sentences for Count 1 and 2 were ordered to be served concurrently.

         [¶3] On appeal, Whitenack challenges the trial court's admission of evidence during her bench trial. Specifically, Whitenack raises the following restated issue: whether the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted evidence found in Whitenack's vehicle during a valid traffic stop. Because the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted evidence found by a K9 officer and his dog during a valid traffic stop, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶4] Around 7:00 am on November 17, 2015, Gail searched her step-daughter Whitenack's vehicle. Whitenack occasionally stayed with Gail and Whitenack's father. Gail was concerned because she had found syringes and a spoon in Whitenack's duffle bag a month earlier while she was looking for hair products that she believed Whitenack had borrowed. Gail took photos of those items and turned them in to the police. The following day, Gail's son found cotton balls with brown residue on them in Gail's home which he took to the police as well.

         [¶5] After her search on November 17, 2015, Gail called police because she found a box of syringes, a spoon, and a small bag with some pills in the trunk of Whitenack's vehicle. The Huntington County Sheriff's Department gave the deputies a description of Whitenack's vehicle along with a tip regarding the suspected drug related items. Later that day, Whitenack was pulled over by Deputy Dave Jackson for going 61 mph in a 55 mph zone and driving left of the center lane twice. Deputy Jackson radioed dispatch with his location and the vehicle description because he recognized that the vehicle matched the description of the one from the tip he had received. Within a minute or two, the department's K9 officer, Deputy Dave McVoy, arrived with his K9 partner. While Deputy Jackson was still writing Whitenack's ticket, Deputy McVoy walked his dog around the vehicle. The dog indicated the presence of drugs inside of Whitenack's vehicle. Deputies McVoy and Jackson then searched Whitenack's vehicle while she stood outside. During their search, the deputies found a split-box of syringes, wrapping from a coffee package, and a spoon with burnt residue. The burnt residue on the spoon was later tested by the Indiana State Police laboratory which determined that the residue was heroin.

         [¶6] On November 24, 2015, the State of Indiana (the "State") filed charges against Whitenack for: Count 1, unlawful possession of a hypodermic syringe; Count 2, possession of paraphernalia; Count 3, driving left of the center lane; and Count 4, exceeding the posted speed limit. On July 7, 2016, following a bench trial, Whitenack was found guilty as charged. That same day, the trial court sentenced Whitenack to the following: one year executed, one year suspended, and one-half year on probation for Count 1; sixty days executed for Count 2; and fines of $10.00 each for Count 3 and 4. The sentences in Counts 1 and 2 were ordered to be served concurrently. This appeal follows.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶7] Whitenack claims that the deputies' search of her vehicle was unreasonable under Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution because the State had received a report with a description of her vehicle, its location, and that it contained contraband over eight hours before her vehicle was searched and the State made no attempt to secure a warrant prior to her being pulled over for speeding and crossing the center line. This appeal follows a completed trial. Therefore, the issue on appeal is properly framed as whether the trial court abused its discretion by admitting the challenged evidence at trial. Lindsey v. State, 916 N.E.2d 230, 238 (Ind.Ct.App. 2009). An abuse of discretion occurs when the trial court's decision is against the logic and effect of the circumstances and facts before it. Weis v. State, 825 N.E.2d 896, 900 (Ind.Ct.App. 2005). "We will not reweigh the evidence, and we consider any ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.