from the Elkhart Circuit Court The Honorable Terry C.
Shewmaker, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 20C01-1412-PC-46
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Stephen T. Owens Public Defender of
Indiana Kristin M. Eichel Deputy Public Defender
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Eric P. Babbs Deputy Attorney General
of the Case
Latorrea Denise Ware appeals from the post-conviction
court's denial of her petition for post-conviction
relief. Ware raises two issues for our review, but we need
only discuss the following issue: whether the post-conviction
court erred when it concluded that Ware did not receive
ineffective assistance from her trial counsel. We hold that,
had Ware's trial counsel moved to suppress evidence
seized by officers who had entered her home with a valid
warrant but without first clearly announcing their presence,
that motion would not have been successful. Accordingly, we
affirm the post-conviction court's judgment that Ware did
not receive ineffective assistance from her trial counsel.
and Procedural History
The facts underlying Ware's convictions were stated by
this court on direct appeal:
In February 2012, a confidential source participated in two
controlled buys of cocaine from Ware. The police used
information gathered during the controlled buys to obtain a
search warrant for Ware's apartment in Elkhart. On
February 24, 2012, Detective Timothy Freel of the Elkhart
Police Department led several officers, including some
uniformed officers, in the execution of the search warrant.
Detective Freel was wearing plain clothes and a black
tactical vest when he knocked on the door to Ware's
apartment. When someone asked who was at the door, Detective
Freel responded that he was from maintenance and was there to
change a furnace filter. Ware opened the door and could see
Detective Freel wearing his vest and tried to shut the door.
Detective Freel put his foot in the doorway, tried to
identify himself as a police officer, drew his weapon, and
ordered the occupants of the apartment to the ground. The
police found cocaine and money used in the controlled buys in
The State charged Ware with Class A felony dealing in
cocaine, two counts of Class B felony dealing in cocaine, and
Class D felony maintaining a common nuisance. A jury found
Ware guilty as charged. . . .
Ware v. State, No. 20A03-1401-CR-18, 2014 WL
4116469, at *1 (Ind.Ct.App. Aug. 21, 2014) (footnote omitted)
In her direct appeal, Ware argued that the trial court
committed fundamental error when it admitted the evidence
seized during the execution of the search warrant. We
rejected Ware's argument as follows:
Ware contends that Detective Freel's initial false
identification of himself as a maintenance man and the lack
of identifying police uniform when she first opened the door
violated basic principles of due process. We do not agree.
There was testimony at trial that the purpose of police
officers falsely identifying themselves when they execute a
search warrant is to "safely get people to the
door" and to avoid the destruction of evidence and
people fleeing from windows. Tr. p. 194. This is consistent
with Detective Freel's testimony that safety was the
primary concern when they entered the apartment. He also
testified that it is standard operating procedure to have
weapons drawn and to order the occupants to the ground
because many times drug dealers have weapons and guns. This
procedure allows police officers to have total control of the
situation and "make everything safe[.]"
Id. at 128.
Detective Freel also testified that, when Ware opened the
door, she could see he was wearing a black tactical bullet
proof vest and he was trying to identify himself as a police
officer. He also testified that plain clothes officers wear
either a badge or a vest that says police. Further, there was
testimony that the search ...