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Bates-Smith v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

August 9, 2018

Jevon R. Bates-Smith, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

          Appeal from the Morgan Superior Court The Honorable Peter R. Foley, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 55D01-1509-F2-1386

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Ryan P. Dillon Maritza K. Webb Dillon Legal Group, P.C. Franklin, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana J.T. Whitehead Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Baker, Judge.

         [¶1] Jevon Bates-Smith appeals his conviction for Level 2 Felony Dealing in a Narcotic Drug.[1] Bates-Smith argues that the trial court erred by (1) admitting evidence stemming from a traffic stop that Bates-Smith contends was unconstitutional; and (2) admitting testimony in violation of the rule against hearsay evidence and the federal Confrontation Clause. Finding no error, we affirm.

         Facts

         [¶2] Indiana State Police Detective Joshua Allen works for the drug enforcement section and is assigned to covert operations in an undercover role investigating people who deal in cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. He has been involved in over 500 criminal investigations related to controlled substances. Detective Allen often employs confidential informants (CIs), who are usually low-level drug users whose cooperation leads to the arrest of higher level targets. He has used CIs over 100 times in his career.

         [¶3] In the summer of 2015, Detective Allen began working with a CI. This CI has heroin-related cases in his criminal history, though he had not yet been convicted of any drug offense. At some point, the CI told Detective Allen that he had purchased heroin from a dealer for whom the CI had a phone number and a vague description, but no name.

         [¶4] The CI worked with officers to contact the heroin dealer, making multiple phone calls and many contacts before finally succeeding. On September 28, 2015, after Detective Allen and the CI had been working together for a few months, police officers were able to contact the dealer using the phone number provided by the CI. They set up a meeting to purchase heroin in the amount of $800. Detective Allen contacted various troopers, sheriff's deputies, and police officers, telling them to be out of sight at the planned meeting location and to be prepared to arrest the dealer after the controlled buy occurred.

         [¶5] The plan was for the controlled buy to take place near a Steak 'n Shake restaurant and Wal-Mart plaza in Martinsville. Based on the CI's description, law enforcement was looking for a blue four-door passenger vehicle holding a slender, tall, Black male. Detective Allen and the CI waited for the vehicle to arrive.

         [¶6] Detective Allen saw a blue four-door vehicle arrive and park in a lot near the restaurant. The detective and CI drove past the vehicle, which held two Black males. As they drove by, the CI's cell phone rang; Detective Allen noticed that the driver of the vehicle, later identified as Bates-Smith, was on his cell phone. The incoming call to the CI was from the same number officers had contacted to arrange the controlled buy. The CI identified Bates-Smith as the dealer. Evidently, Bates-Smith was contacting the CI to cancel the deal. Appellee's Br. p. 23.

         [¶7] Bates-Smith began to drive his vehicle out of the parking lot. Detective Allen contacted the other law enforcement officials who were waiting nearby with instructions to stop the vehicle; Detective Allen drove the CI to a gas station and let him get out of the car so that he would not be identified by Bates-Smith or his passenger.

         [¶8] As Bates-Smith was driving his vehicle, law enforcement officials followed it and turned on their lights and sirens. Bates-Smith continued to drive through the parking lot, with the officials in pursuit. As officials had blocked the parking lot exits, Bates-Smith eventually ran out of room and had to stop. His passenger, later identified as Jeremiah Moore, jumped out of the car while it was still moving. Moore tried to run away but was apprehended by law enforcement officials. He was instructed to get down onto the pavement in a spread-eagle position. He complied, and then repeatedly attempted to shove something into his mouth but was unable to swallow it. It was later determined that the object was a golf-ball-sized baggy containing heroin.

         [¶9] At the same time, other officials were focused on Bates-Smith, who was still in the vehicle. He eventually agreed to exit the vehicle. A later search of the vehicle revealed a loaded pistol, five cell phones, scales, and ...


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