Aaron A. Negash, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable David J. Certo,
Judge Trial Court Cause No. 49G09-1705-CM-18997
Attorney for Appellant Talisha Griffin Marion County Public
Defender Agency Indianapolis, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Jesse R. Drum Deputy Attorney General
of the Case
Aaron Negash ("Negash") appeals his convictions,
following a bench trial, for Class A misdemeanor carrying a
handgun without a license and Class A misdemeanor possession of a
synthetic drug or lookalike substance. Negash argues
that: (1) the trial court abused its discretion when it
admitted the synthetic marijuana he possessed into evidence
because it had been seized pursuant to an illegal search; (2)
there was insufficient evidence to support his carrying a
handgun without a license conviction; and (3) the trial court
erred by ordering Negash to pay probation fees.
We conclude that: (1) the trial court properly admitted the
evidence; (2) there was sufficient evidence to support his
carrying a handgun without a license conviction; and (3) the
trial court did not err in imposing probation fees. However,
we remand to the trial court to hold an indigency hearing
upon the completion of Negash's sentence.
We affirm and remand with instructions.
Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it
admitted the synthetic marijuana into evidence.
Whether there was sufficient evidence to support Negash's
carrying a handgun without a license conviction.
Whether the trial court abused its discretion by ordering
Negash to pay probation fees.
On the night of May 22, 2017, police from the Indianapolis
Metropolitan Police Department were dispatched to the Living
Room Lounge in Indianapolis on a report of shots fired. When
Officer Matthew Plummer ("Officer Plummer") and
Sergeant Mark Gregory ("Sgt. Gregory") arrived on
scene, a suspect was already in custody. They learned that
another vehicle was involved in the incident and that a
vehicle with three occupants was parked behind the building.
Officer Plummer and Sgt. Gregory "walked up and started
conversing with the occupants in the vehicle." (Tr. 12).
Negash, who identified himself as "Moses," was
seated in the driver's seat of the vehicle. (Tr. 23). There
was one front-seat passenger and one back-seat passenger.
Officer Plummer spoke with Negash and the back-seat passenger
and informed them that he and Sgt. Gregory were investigating
a report of shots fired. Officer Plummer asked the occupants
whether they "had  heard anything, [and] [whether]
there [were] any weapons in the vehicle[.]" (Tr. 12).
The three occupants responded "no." (Tr. 12). While
Officer Plummer focused on Negash and the back-seat
passenger, Sgt. Gregory spoke to the front-seat passenger,
who was "moving around, reaching for the glovebox, going
for his wristband, [and] pulling his shirt up." (Tr.
13). The back-seat passenger did not say anything to Officer
Plummer, but he pointed to Negash and made "the outline
[of] a gun with his index finger and his thumb." (Tr.
Officer Plummer then asked Negash to step out of the vehicle.
As Negash stepped out of the vehicle, Officer Plummer
observed "a huge bulge in [Negash's] right pocket,
sticking out, protruding." (Tr. 14). Officer Plummer
immediately conducted a pat-down of the outer layer of
Negash's clothing and felt "a baggie of
narcotics." (Tr. 14). During the pat-down, Officer
Plummer also "looked down as [he] patted down and
[could] see straight into the pocket." (Tr. 15). Based
on his experiences as a law enforcement officer, Officer
Plummer recognized that the baggie contained synthetic
marijuana.Officer Plummer arrested Negash and seized
the synthetic marijuana. The police then searched the vehicle
and located a handgun in the glovebox. The hammer of the
handgun was cocked back and the gun was loaded.
Negash stood at the hood of the police vehicle while Officer
Plummer was in the same vehicle trying to verify Negash's
identity in the computer system. Sgt. Gregory leaned into
Officer Plummer's window and asked, "is someone
going to be arrested for the gun?" (Tr. 27). Negash
interjected and stated, "I have a permit for that gun.
It's in the trunk." (Tr. 27). Officer Plummer went
to the trunk but did not find a gun permit.
The State charged Negash with Class A misdemeanor carrying a
handgun without a license and Class A misdemeanor possession
of a synthetic drug or lookalike substance. A bench trial was
held on February 13, 2018. At trial, Officer Plummer and
Moses Negash testified to the facts above. When the State
introduced the synthetic marijuana into evidence, defense
counsel objected and stated the following:
I do object to State's exhibit 1, Your Honor, and I would
call for the baggie and its contents and the testimony around
it to be excluded under the application of the exclusionary
rule. It's fruit of the poisonous tree from an unlawful
* * *
When he asked Mr. Negash to step out of the car, it became a
detention, and at that time Mr. Negash was not advised of his
* * *
It wasn't a gun, and he used further intrusive means of
looking into my client's pocket and violated his right to
having a warrant for any search or consenting to a search by
being read his [P]irtle rights and waiving those rights.
(Tr. 18). The trial court overruled the objection and
admitted the synthetic marijuana into evidence. The trial