Lee v. State, 102220 INCA, 20A-CR-836

Docket Nº:20A-CR-836
Opinion Judge:Robb, Judge.
Party Name:Lavontae Lee, Appellant-Defendant, v. State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff,
Attorney:ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Clifford M. Robinson The Law Office of Clifford M. Robinson, LLC Rensselaer, Indiana ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Courtney Staton Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana
Judge Panel:Crone, J., and Brown, J., concur.
Case Date:October 22, 2020
Court:Court of Appeals of Indiana
 
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Lavontae Lee, Appellant-Defendant,

v.

State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff,

No. 20A-CR-836

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 22, 2020

Pursuant to Ind. Appellate Rule 65(D), this Memorandum Decision shall not be regarded as precedent or cited before any court except for the purpose of establishing the defense of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or the law of the case.

Appeal from the Newton Superior Court The Honorable Daniel J. Molter, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 56D01-1906-F6-617

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Clifford M. Robinson The Law Office of Clifford M. Robinson, LLC Rensselaer, Indiana

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Courtney Staton Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

MEMORANDUM DECISION

Robb, Judge.

Case Summary and Issue

[¶1] Following a jury trial, Lavontae Lee was convicted of neglect of a dependent, a Level 6 felony; possession of marijuana, a Class B misdemeanor; and reckless driving, a Class C misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced Lee to an aggregate sentence of eighteen months to be served in the Indiana Department of Correction ("DOC"). Lee appeals and raises the sole issue of whether there was sufficient evidence to support his neglect of a dependent conviction. Concluding the State presented sufficient evidence to support his conviction, we affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶2] On June 8, 2019, Vincent Lowe ("Officer Lowe"), an investigator with the Newton County Prosecutor's Office, was assigned to the Drug Task Force and was on patrol near U.S. 41 and County Road 100 North in Newton County. Officer Lowe heard a vehicle's "exhaust rapidly accelerating" and observed a Dodge traveling westbound on the county road. Transcript of Evidence, Volume II at 51. Officer Lowe left his location, pulled onto the county road, and increased his speed "to try [to] catch up" to the Dodge. Id. At the time, the road had been recently repaved, and it was "drizzling rain and almost dark." Id. at 52. Officer Lowe passed a Cadillac that was behind the Dodge and accelerated to approximately 110 mph "before [he] was close enough to activate [his] same direction radar unit," which reported that the Dodge was traveling at 114 mph in a 55 mph speed zone. Id. at 51.

[¶3] Officer Lowe activated his emergency lights to initiate a traffic stop and the Dodge pulled over immediately. Officer Lowe walked up to the vehicle and immediately smelled the odor of marijuana emanating from the car. Lee was the driver and two adult males and L.L., Lee's minor son, were also in the vehicle. Officer Lowe asked Lee to step out of the vehicle. At some point, a backup unit arrived.[1]

[¶4] While another officer spoke with the other occupants, Officer Lowe and Lee stood in front of his patrol car "to discuss the happenings and get [Lee's] identifying information." Id. at 52. Lee stated he believed Officer Lowe was his friend behind him driving the Cadillac and thought they were "playing games" and he "didn't realize that [Officer Lowe] passed that friend and that [the patrol vehicle's] headlights were the same color as the Cadillac SUV, so he was taken off-guard that it was actually a police car and not the Cadillac." Id. at 53, 63. Lee then spoke with another officer while Officer Lowe relayed Lee's information to dispatch. The other officer informed Officer Lowe that Lee had disclosed that he had marijuana on his person. Officers allowed Lee to retrieve the marijuana and turn it over, which later field tested positive for THC. Officers also discovered remnants of marijuana in the vehicle in plain view. Lee was arrested and a relative took custody of L.L. and the vehicle.

[¶5] On June 13, the State charged Lee with neglect of a dependent, a Level 6 felony; possession of marijuana, a Class B misdemeanor; and reckless driving, a Class C misdemeanor. A jury trial was held on March 2, 2020, [2] and the jury found Lee guilty as charged. The trial court sentenced Lee to an aggregate sentence of eighteen months to be served in the DOC. Lee now appeals. He only challenges his neglect of a dependent conviction; he does not challenge his possession of marijuana and reckless driving convictions. Additional facts will be supplied as necessary.

Discussion and Decision

I. Standard of Review

[¶6] Our standard of review upon a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence is well settled. D.J. v. State, 88 N.E.3d 236, 241 (Ind.Ct.App. 2017). We do not reweigh the evidence or judge the credibility of the witnesses.

Purvis v. State, 87 N.E.3d 1119, 1124 (Ind.Ct.App. 2017). Instead, we consider only the evidence supporting the verdict and any reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom. Morris v. State, 114 N.E.3d 531, 535 (Ind.Ct.App. 2018), trans. denied. Thus, we consider...

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