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McAlpin v. State

Supreme Court of Indiana

August 14, 2017

Corey McAlpin, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff).

         Appeal from the Jefferson Circuit Court, No. 39C01-1408-F4-707 The Honorable Darrell M. Auxier, Judge

         On Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 39A01-1606-CR-1417

          Attorney for Appellant R. Patrick Magrath Alcorn Sage Schwartz & Magrath, LLP Madison, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Stephen R. Creason Christina D. Pace Deputy Attorneys General Indianapolis, Indiana

          RUSH, CHIEF JUSTICE.

         Juries decide a host of fact-sensitive disputes. Did the defendant kill "knowingly"? Resist "forcibly"? Drive "recklessly"? When the jury returns a guilty verdict and the defendant appeals the sufficiency of the evidence, our job is not to proclaim what we would have done as jurors. Instead, we view the record favorably to the verdict and decide whether a reasonable fact-finder could convict.

         Here, a jury found defendant Corey McAlpin guilty of committing various meth-related crimes with a drug-free-zone enhancement. Specifically, the jury determined that the crimes occurred near a public park where a minor's presence was "reasonably expected." Though this may have been a close factual call for the jury, we find the evidence sufficient and affirm McAlpin's enhanced conviction.

         Facts and Procedural History

         Nestled against the Ohio River, tucked away in rolling hills and limestone bluffs, lies picturesque Madison, Indiana. For that historic river town, Thursday, August 21, 2014, began as "just your normal" peaceful summer morning. Schools were in session. The sun was low. The temperature was warm, not yet blistering.

         But something had been cooking on West Second Street-and it wasn't apple pie. Around 10:00 a.m., a team of police entered Corey McAlpin's apartment and noticed a "horrible" odor, like that of "50 cats . . . with no litter box." They soon learned why: the apartment was an active methamphetamine lab. Police found an abundance of meth-making supplies, including two active hydrochloric acid gas generators, a reaction vessel, a mangled plastic bottle, plastic tubing, drain cleaner, an empty box of pseudoephedrine, petroleum fuel, a cold pack, a razor blade, scales, syringes, a glass pipe, meth residue, and a mutilated lithium battery. McAlpin was arrested on the spot.

         Two blocks from this meth operation sits Bicentennial Park. Pictured below, this city park features a wide-open green space surrounded by a residential neighborhood. It also has an outdoor amphitheater, restrooms, convenient parking, and sidewalks wrapping around and cutting within. The park does not, however, have benches, playgrounds, or trees:

          The State used Bicentennial Park's proximity to McAlpin's apartment to enhance his charges to Level 4 felony dealing in methamphetamine, Level 5 felony possession of precursors, and Level 5 felony possession of methamphetamine. To prove these drug-free-zone enhancements, the State needed to show that McAlpin committed the crimes "within five hundred (500) feet of a public park . . . while a person under eighteen (18) years of age was reasonably expected to be present."

          During the jury trial's closing arguments, the parties agreed that McAlpin's apartment was within 500 feet of a park but disputed whether a child was "reasonably expected" to be in the park during the crimes. The State acknowledged that schools were in session, but urged the jury to

think of your stay-at-home moms, your stay-at-home dads. What about your grandparents, children under school age, toddlers, maybe a stay-at-home dad taking his infant son for a walk and stops at the park? What about home school children? They take breaks. They have recess. It's absolutely reasonable to conclude that a child ...

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