Isom v. State

Decision Date03 March 1992
Docket NumberNo. 18A02-9108-CR-365,18A02-9108-CR-365
Citation589 N.E.2d 245
PartiesDonald Ray ISOM, Appellant-Defendant, v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff. Second District
CourtIndiana Appellate Court

Kelly N. Bryan, Muncie, for appellant-defendant.

Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen., and Lisa M. Paunicka, Deputy Atty. Gen., Office of Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee-plaintiff.

SHIELDS, Judge.

Donald Ray Isom appeals his conviction for dealing in cocaine, a class B felony. 1

We reverse.

ISSUES

1. Whether the trial court erred in denying Isom's motion to suppress the evidence the police confiscated during their warrantless search of the vehicle.

2. Whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain Isom's conviction for dealing in cocaine. 2

FACTS

On the afternoon of October 28, 1990, Jeff Watson and Jim Branson, officers with the Muncie Police Department, were on routine patrol when they observed a vehicle drive around railroad crossing gates. The officers stopped the vehicle and asked Isom, the driver, for his license and some identification. Isom informed the officers that he did not have a driver's license, and he identified himself as "Don Johnson." Officer Watson's check on the vehicle's license plate revealed the plate was registered to another vehicle. A passer-by then identified Isom, and Watson determined by police radio that there were outstanding warrants for his arrest. Watson and Branson arrested Isom, impounded the vehicle, and conducted an inventory search of the vehicle. Under the driver's seat of the vehicle, the police found a .38 caliber automatic handgun, a glass pipe used to smoke cocaine, and ten plastic baggies containing a white substance which was later identified as cocaine. Isom was arrested for possession of cocaine but subsequently charged and convicted of dealing in cocaine. 3

DISCUSSION
I.

Isom contends the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the evidence the police confiscated during their warrantless search of the vehicle. The State bears the burden of proving that a warrantless search is within one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement. Rabadi v. State (1989), Ind., 541 N.E.2d 271, 274. As both parties note, an inventory search of an impounded vehicle conducted pursuant to routine police procedures is an exception to the warrant requirement. Id. To make its required showing that its actions come within the inventory exception, the State must do more than offer the mere statement of a police officer that the search was conducted as a routine inventory. Id. at 275. The circumstances surrounding the intrusion must also indicate that the search was part of established and routine department procedures consistent with the public policies/interests of protecting police from potential danger and false claims of lost or stolen property and protecting the property of those arrested. Id.

Based on probable cause, Officers Watson and Branson arrested Isom, impounded his vehicle, and, in accordance with departmental policy, conducted an inventory search of the vehicle. Under these circumstances, the police had a duty to conduct an inventory search of the vehicle based on the fact they had impounded the vehicle due to Isom's arrest. See Eckstein v. State (1988), Ind., 526 N.E.2d 693, 694 ("In view of the fact the vehicle was being impounded by reason of appellant's arrest ... the police not only had the right but had a duty to conduct an inventory search of the vehicle.").

The trial court did not err in denying Isom's motion to suppress.

II.

Isom argues the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for dealing in cocaine, a class B felony. When reviewing a claim of insufficient evidence, this court neither reweighs the evidence nor rejudges the credibility of witnesses. Rather, it looks only to the evidence favorable to the judgment and any reasonable inferences therefrom. If there is sufficient evidence of probative value to support a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, this court will affirm the conviction. Berry v. State (1991), Ind.App., 574 N.E.2d 960, 963.

According to IC 35-48-4-1(a)(2)(C) (1991 Supp.), a person who possesses cocaine with intent to deliver commits dealing in cocaine, a class B felony. Specifically, Isom argues the State failed to prove his intent to deliver. 4

Intent is a mental function; therefore absent an admission, the trier of fact must resort to reasonable inferences based upon an examination of the surrounding circumstances to determine whether, from the person's conduct and the natural consequences thereof, a showing or inference of intent to commit that conduct exists. Mason v. State (1989), Ind., 532 N.E.2d 1169, 1171. Possession of a large amount of a controlled substance is circumstantial evidence of intent to deliver, and the greater the amount in possession, the stronger the inference he intends it for delivery and not for personal consumption. Id. Nevertheless, Isom argues the quantity of the cocaine here was too small for the jury to infer intent to deliver.

The amount of a controlled substance which has been held sufficient to support the reasonable inference of intent to deliver is varied. In Valle v. State (1990), Ind., 550 N.E.2d 746, the court inferred intent from an amount equaling 112.3 grams of exceptionally pure cocaine as well as evidence of the defendant's expressed purpose in traveling to Florida to obtain cocaine for his customers. In Enamorado v. State (1989), Ind., 534 N.E.2d 740, the amount was 272 grams of 92.9% pure cocaine. In Montego v. State (1987), Ind., 517 N.E.2d 74, 83 grams of cocaine were found along with lactose, a substance commonly used to dilute cocaine, a triple beam gram scale containing cocaine residue, and numerous plastic bags with trimmed corners. Knowles v. State (1991), Ind.App., 571 N.E.2d 1308, involved 140 grams of 98% pure cocaine.

Frierson v. State (1991), Ind.App., 572 N.E.2d 536, involved only about nine (9) grams of cocaine. However, other incriminating evidence substantiated a finding of guilt for dealing in cocaine. The evidence and reasonable inferences favorable to the jury's verdict reflect that Frierson was discovered in her boyfriend's apartment shortly after the police had arrested her boyfriend for dealing cocaine. One of the police officers testified that they went to the apartment and knocked on the door. When a female came to the door, they identified themselves as police officers and instructed her to open the door. The officer testified that he heard footsteps running from the door, and after two or three minutes, Frierson returned and opened the door. He testified that she had powder on her face, arms and skirt. The powder was later determined to be cocaine. Another police officer testified that the tank in the bathroom was filling as if it had just been flushed, and a bowl containing cocaine residue was found in the bathroom. The officers...

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22 cases
  • Fair v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • December 30, 1993
    ...function, the procedures must be rationally designed to meet the objectives that justify the search in the first place, Isom v. State (1992), Ind.App., 589 N.E.2d 245, and must sufficiently limit the discretion of the officer in the field. Wells, 495 U.S. at 4, 110 S.Ct. at 1635; People v. ......
  • Weathers v. State
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    • Indiana Appellate Court
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    ...function, the procedures must be rationally designed to meet the objectives that justify the search in the first place, Isom v. State (1992), Ind.App., 589 N.E.2d 245, and must sufficiently limit the discretion of the officer in the field. Wells, 495 U.S. at 4, 110 S.Ct. at 1635 ; People v.......
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    ...of intent to commit that conduct exists." Stokes v. State, 801 N.E.2d 1263, 1272 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004)(citing Isom v. State, 589 N.E.2d 245, 247 (Ind. Ct. App. 1992)). Intent to deliver may be proved by circumstantial evidence. Id. (citing Frierson v. State, 572 N.E.2d 536, 537 (Ind. Ct. App......
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    ...with instructions to enter a judgment of conviction on the lesser included offense of possession of cocaine); Isom v. State, 589 N.E.2d 245, 248 (Ind.Ct. App.1992) (reversing conviction of dealing in cocaine, and remanding with instructions to enter judgment of conviction of possession of c......
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