Massey v. State, 22A-CR-547

Citation22A-CR-547
Case DateSeptember 22, 2022
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Aaron C. Massey, Appellant-Defendant,
v.

State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

No. 22A-CR-547

Court of Appeals of Indiana

September 22, 2022


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 Tippecanoe Superior Court The Honorable Steven P. Meyer, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 79D02-1907-F3-30

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Timothy P. Broden Lafayette, Indiana

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Theodore E. Rokita Attorney General of Indiana J.T. Whitehead Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

MEMORANDUM DECISION

WEISSMANN, JUDGE.

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[¶1] Aaron C. Massey asked to remain free for 60 days between his guilty plea and his sentencing so he could continue assisting the police with the apparent hope of leniency at sentencing. The prosecutor agreed, but no one memorialized this promise in the plea agreement. One day after Massey pled guilty, the parole board issued an arrest warrant in an unrelated case. Massey evaded the warrant for seven months, continuing to aid the police department.

[¶2] When Massey finally faced sentencing, he called foul, claiming that the State defrauded him by inducing him to plead guilty with a promise of 60 days of freedom that it cut short with the arrest warrant. Massey moved to withdraw his guilty plea, presenting the parties' email exchanges to establish the part of the bargain omitted from the plea agreement.

[¶3] Refusing to consider the emails, the trial court denied Massey's request to withdraw his guilty plea. We affirm, finding that Massey has not proven fraud and that he obtained the deal he negotiated.

Facts

[¶4] In 2019, police discovered Massey with several bags of methamphetamine, totaling more than seven grams, a digital scale, and $1,340 in cash. The State charged Massey with dealing in methamphetamine, a Level 3 felony, and possession of methamphetamine, a Level 5 felony. It also alleged Massey was a habitual offender.

[¶5] The trial court later ordered Massey released pending trial. A week later Massey's counsel informed the prosecutor by email that Massey would plead

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guilty to a Level 4 felony "on the condition he can remain released and sentencing will be scheduled 60 days out." Exhs., p. 29. The email also revealed that, during the 60 days, Massey planned to address a personal family issue and to continue assisting the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department, with the apparent hope of leniency at sentencing. Id. The prosecutor responded by email, "That's fine. We'll agree to that." Id.

[¶6] The next day Massey pleaded guilty to an amended charge of dealing in methamphetamine, a Level 4 felony, and admitted he was a habitual offender in exchange for dismissal of the other charges. The written plea agreement did not incorporate the condition that Massey remain free for 60 days between his plea and sentencing to pursue his family issue or work with police. And it contained an integration clause specifying that "this agreement embodies the entire agreement between the parties, and no promises or inducements have been made to the Defendant by the State that are not set out herein." App. Vol. II, p. 72.

[¶7] During the guilty plea hearing in October 2020, the trial court summarized the plea agreement, including the integration clause. It then asked Massey, "Are those the terms as you understand (sic) in the Plea Agreement?" Tr. Vol. II, p. 7. Massey responded, "Yes, sir." Id. The trial court also advised Massey that if the court accepted the plea agreement, the court was bound by its terms and could not change them. Id.

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[¶8] The trial court took the plea agreement under advisement until sentencing. Massey's counsel requested that that the sentencing hearing occur at least 60 days later "because he has some family issues to take care of before." Id. at 18. The State did not object. Id. Neither Massey nor the State elaborated, and they did not reveal their email communications regarding the plea agreement. The court scheduled the sentencing hearing more than 60 days later. The day after the guilty plea hearing, the Parole Board issued a warrant for Massey's arrest for violating his parole in another matter through his commission of this offense. Upon learning of the warrant the next day, Massey absconded after removing the ankle monitor he was wearing as a condition of his release.

[¶9] Massey did not appear at the scheduled sentencing hearing in February 2021. The trial court issued a warrant for his arrest, and Massey was back in custody by the end of May 2021. Four months later Massey moved to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing that it was based on an agreement that he would remain free until sentencing and the State had not honored that condition.

[¶10] After a hearing, the trial court entered a detailed order...

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