Aaron L. Fansler Appellant (Defendant below)
State of Indiana Appellee (Plaintiff below).
Argued: November 21, 2017
from the Grant Circuit Court, No. 27C01-1506-F3-15 The
Honorable Mark E. Spitzer, Judge.
Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Evan K. Hammond Grant County Public
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
P. Babbs, Stephen R. Creason, Ian McLean, Angela Sanchez
Deputy Attorneys General
case we address whether, under Indiana Evidence Rule 617,
admission of incriminating statements made in a motel
during the course of a custodial interrogation required the
State to make available an electronic recording of those
statements at trial. We find that the trial court did not err
in admitting the defendant's statements without such a
recording because the motel room in question was not a
"place a detention, " as defined by the rule.
and Procedural History
18, 2015, Aaron Fansler ("Fansler") accepted a
Facebook friend request to connect with a user who appeared
to be a twenty-one-year-old woman named "Kenzie
Allen" ("Kenzie"). Kenzie was not a real
person; a fake Facebook account using that name was set up by
a drug task force team investigating drug dealing in Grant
County. Communicating first through social media, and then
through private text messages, Fansler agreed to sell
two-tenths of a gram of heroin to Kenzie at the Hart Motel,
located in Marion, Indiana.
next day, lured by the prospects of sexual intercourse and a
drug sale, Fansler visited Kenzie's motel room where he
was greeted by Detective Wesley McCorkle, a member of the
Joint Effort Against Narcotics ("JEAN") Team.
Detective McCorkle identified himself as Kenzie's brother
and assured Fansler that Kenzie had just stepped out to
purchase cigarettes and would return soon. Fansler, who
appeared visibly nervous, decided to wait for Kenzie outside
the room. As Fansler walked along the outside of the motel, a
second officer, Detective Sergeant John Kauffman, approached
Fansler and arrested him. Fansler was brought back into the
motel room, where officers noticed a syringe protruding from
an open flap in his cargo pants. Officers retrieved the
syringe and, upon searching Fansler further, they recovered
over a dozen clonazepam and oxycodone pills, numerous empty
plastic bags, a scale, a tourniquet, a hypodermic needle, two
cigarette packs, and more than $250 in cash.
Fansler's pockets were emptied and his Miranda
warnings were read, Fansler made two incriminating
statements. The first statement came in response to
officers' questions about the drugs he promised to sell.
When officers asked Fansler "where the two points of
heroin were, "he told them that the "points"
should be in the baggies. Tr. Vol. I at 147. Officers then
searched inside one of the cigarette packs and recovered two
small ziplock baggies containing a substance that later
tested positive for heroin. Within that same cigarette pack,
officers found "another clear baggy that contained a
large amount of gray compressed powder." Tr. Vol. I at
149. That substance also later tested positive for heroin.
When officers asked Fansler "why he didn't tell
[them] about [the large amount of compressed powder] being in
the cigarettes in his possession, " Fansler made a
second incriminating statement, claiming that he did not want
to "get caught with it" and "go to jail for
it." Tr. Vol. I at 152.
24, 2015, Fansler was charged with possession of heroin with
intent to deliver, felony possession of heroin, misdemeanor
possession of a controlled substance, and misdemeanor
possession of paraphernalia. Fansler filed a motion to
suppress his incriminating statements, which the trial court
denied after holding a preliminary hearing.
trial was held on August 1-2, 2016. Fansler admitted
possession, but denied intent to deliver and raised an
affirmative entrapment defense. During the State's case
in chief, Detective Sergeant Kauffman testified as to
Fansler's two self-incriminating statements-that the two
points he promised to sell to Kenzie were in the baggies and
that he didn't tell officers about the large amount of
compressed powder in his ...