Zachary J. Taylor, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff
from the Spencer Circuit Court The Honorable Jon A. Dartt,
Judge Trial Court Cause No. 74C01-1801-F4-12
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Andrew W. Foster The Law Office of
Andrew W. Foster, LLC Rockport, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Monika Prekopa Talbot Deputy Attorney General
Zachary J. Taylor appeals his convictions of Level 5 felony
possession of methamphetamine and Level 6 felony possession of
marijuana. Taylor argues the search of his apartment
violated his rights against illegal search and seizure under
the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and
Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. We affirm.
and Procedural History
On January 5, 2018, Rockport Police Officer Shon Shourds
responded to an anonymous tip of drug activity at
Taylor's apartment. Officer Shourds drove by the location
and did not see any suspicious activity. After a second
anonymous call reporting drug activity at Taylor's
apartment, Officer Shourds contacted Police Chief Kyle
Maldonado, who directed Officer Shourds to go to Taylor's
apartment to "do a knock and talk." (Tr. Vol. II at
132.) Chief Maldonado met Officer Shourds there and
accompanied him to Taylor's apartment door.
Officers heard voices from inside Taylor's apartment as
they approached. The door had a window, which was covered
with blinds, with the exception of a few inches at the bottom
of the window. Before knocking, Officer Shourds "peeked
through or glanced through" the gap under the blinds,
(id. at 49), and saw Taylor and a female who was
holding a small, cylindrical glass pipe used to consume
tobacco or illegal substances. Officer Shourds testified he
had to "adjust his body" to see through the gap.
(Id.) Officer Shourds did not knock on the door.
Instead the officers returned to the parking lot to obtain a
While the officers were in the parking lot pursuing the
search warrant, they saw Taylor and the woman exit
Taylor's apartment and go separate directions. Officer
Shourds recognized Taylor, exited the patrol car, and asked
Taylor if he knew the woman's name. Taylor told Officer
Shourds the woman was Angela Stokes and gave him Stokes'
address. Officer Shourds proceeded to Stokes' nearby
Officer Shourds knocked on Stokes' door, and she
answered. He asked if he could speak with her, and she
agreed. Officer Shourds told Stokes she was going to jail
because he had observed her smoking methamphetamine at
Taylor's apartment. During the conversation, Stokes gave
Officer Shourds a smoking device similar to the one he saw
her holding in Taylor's apartment, as well as multiple
pills she claimed Taylor had given her to sell. Officer
Shourds arrested Stokes.
While the officers were still waiting for the search warrant,
Taylor returned to his apartment. Officers were concerned
that Taylor would destroy evidence in the apartment, so they
would not let Taylor enter his apartment. Taylor became
angry, but eventually calmed down and left. Officers received
the search warrant shortly thereafter, and Taylor returned to
his apartment while officers were in the process of searching
it. Other officers had arrived at the scene in the
intervening moments and detained Taylor.
In Taylor's apartment, officers found methamphetamine,
marijuana, and a digital scale. Officers arrested Taylor. The
State charged Taylor with Level 5 felony dealing in a
narcotic drug,  Level 6 felony possession of
methamphetamine,  Level 6 felony maintaining a common
nuisance,  Level 6 felony dealing in marijuana,
Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana. The State
subsequently amended the charging information and added
charges of Level 4 felony dealing in a narcotic drug,
Level 5 felony possession of methamphetamine,  Level 6
felony dealing in marijuana,  and Class B misdemeanor
possession of marijuana.
On April 2, 2018, Taylor filed a motion to suppress the
evidence found in his apartment, alleging the search of his
apartment violated his Fourth Amendment and Article 1,
Section 11 rights against illegal search and seizure. He
argued the evidence obtained as part of the search of his
apartment was fruit of the poisonous tree because Officer
Shourds conducted an illegal warrantless search when he
repositioned his body to look in the gap between the blinds
covering Taylor's door window and the edge of the window.
The trial court held a hearing on Taylor's motion to
suppress on April 13, 2018, and denied it on May 1, 2018.
The trial court held Taylor's jury trial on May 9, 2018.
During trial Taylor continued his objection to the admission
of the evidence found in his apartment. The jury returned
guilty verdicts on Level 6 felony possession of
methamphetamine, Level 6 felony maintaining a common
nuisance, and Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
Taylor subsequently pled guilty to having prior convictions
that enhanced two of those convictions to Level 5 felony
possession of methamphetamine and Level 6 felony possession
of marijuana. The trial court vacated the maintaining a
common nuisance conviction due to double jeopardy concerns.
On June 14, 2018, the trial court sentenced Taylor to an
aggregate sentence of fourteen years, with one year suspended
The trial court denied Taylor's pre-trial motion to
suppress evidence, and Taylor made timely objections to the
admission of evidence at trial. Because Taylor appeals
following his conviction, rather than from the trial
court's order denying his motion to suppress, the
question before us is properly framed as whether the trial
court abused its discretion in admitting the evidence.
Shell v. State, 927 N.E.2d 413, 418 (Ind.Ct.App.
Admission of evidence at trial is left to the discretion of
the trial court. Clarkv. State, 994 N.E.2d
252, 259-60 (Ind. 2013). We review its determinations for an
abuse of that discretion and reverse only when admission is
clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and
circumstances and the error affects a party's substantial
rights. Id. at 260. We will not reweigh evidence,
and we consider conflicting evidence most favorable to the
trial court's ruling. Marcum v. State, 843
N.E.2d 546, 547 (Ind.Ct.App. 2006). We also consider
uncontested evidence favorable to the defendant. Id.
The record must disclose substantial evidence of probative
value that supports the trial court's decision.
Gonser v. State, 843 ...