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Date: 01-05-2018

Case Style:

Christopher M. Beaty v. State of Indiana

Case Number: 30A05-1706-CR-1366

Judge: Patricia A. Riley


Plaintiff's Attorney: Angela Sanchez
Lee M. Stoy, Jr.
Deputy Attorneys General

Defendant's Attorney: Nicole A. Zelin

Description: On January 25, 2017, Sarah Gustin (Gustin) was introduced to Beaty through a
mutual friend. They spent time together the next day, and on January 27, 2017,
Gustin drove Beaty to the outskirts of Greenfield, Hancock County, Indiana, in
order to meet one of his friends regarding “[a] [m]eth deal.” (Tr. p. 81). The
friend, identified simply as “Taylor,” got into Gustin’s vehicle, and the trio
drove to the southside of Indianapolis “[t]o pick up the [m]eth.” (Tr. pp. 82,
84). Gustin parked her vehicle in the parking lot of a pharmacy, and Beaty
instructed her to wait there as he exited the vehicle and walked further down
the street. Twenty minutes later, Beaty returned to the vehicle with “a rock of
[m]eth.” (Tr. p. 86). Beaty “split [the rock] in half” and gave one half—i.e.,
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 30A05-1706-CR-1366 | December 29, 2017 Page 3 of 7

supposedly a gram of methamphetamine—to Taylor in exchange for $100.00.
(Tr. p. 86). Beaty kept the other half. Gustin drove Taylor home, then she and
Beaty drove to a house located at 375 Mount Street in Greenfield. Once again,
Gustin waited in her vehicle while Beaty went inside, purportedly so that he
could “weigh out the amount [of methamphetamine] that he had kept.” (Tr. p.
[5] At that time, it just so happened that the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department
and the Greenfield Police Department planned to execute a narcotics search
warrant at the Mount Street house. Approximately five or six people, including
Beaty, were inside at the time the officers entered and were placed under arrest.
An officer searched Beaty and recovered “a gray piece of plastic which
contained [a] crystal type substance which later field tested positive for
[methamphetamine].” (Tr. p. 124). Laboratory testing subsequently confirmed
the substance was methamphetamine, weighing “1.01 grams plus or minus .02
gram to a 95% degree of confidence.” (Tr. p. 181). Outside, police officers
spoke with Gustin and, with her consent, searched her vehicle, where they
retrieved Beaty’s cell phone. The content of the messages downloaded from
Beaty’s phone indicated that he was involved in procuring various types of
drugs for multiple people.
[6] On January 30, 2017, the State filed an Information, charging Beaty with Count
I, dealing in methamphetamine, a Level 4 felony, I.C. § 35-48-4-1.1(a)(1),(c)(1);
Count II, possession of methamphetamine, a Level 6 felony, I.C. § 35-48-4
6.1(a); and Count III, visiting a common nuisance, a Class B misdemeanor,
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 30A05-1706-CR-1366 | December 29, 2017 Page 4 of 7

I.C. § 35-45-1-5(a)(3),(b). On March 9, 2017, Beaty informed the trial court that
he desired to proceed pro se, and he demanded a speedy trial. The trial court
directed Beaty’s previously-appointed attorney to act as standby counsel. On
May 9, 2017, the trial court conducted a jury trial. At the close of the evidence,
the jury returned guilty verdicts on all Counts. On June 2, 2017, the trial court
held a sentencing hearing. The trial court sentenced Beaty to ten years for
dealing in methamphetamine, two and one-half years for possession of
methamphetamine, and 180 days for visiting a common nuisance—all to be
executed concurrently in the Indiana Department of Correction.
[7] Beaty now appeals. Additional facts will be provided as necessary.
[8] Beaty claims that the State presented insufficient evidence to support his
conviction for dealing in methamphetamine as a Level 4 felony. Our standard
of reviewing claims of sufficiency of the evidence is well settled. Our court
considers only the probative evidence and reasonable inferences supporting the
verdict. Boggs v. State, 928 N.E.2d 855, 864 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010), trans. denied.
We do not reweigh evidence or judge the credibility of witnesses. Id. “We will
affirm the conviction unless no reasonable fact-finder could find the elements of
the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” Id. The evidence need not
“overcome every reasonable hypothesis of innocence.” Id. Rather, [t]he
evidence is sufficient if an inference may reasonably be drawn from it to support
the verdict.” Id.
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[9] In order to prove the offense as charged, the State was required to establish that
Beaty knowingly or intentionally delivered methamphetamine, and that “the
amount of the drug involved [was] at last one (1) gram but less than five (5)
grams.” I.C. § 35-48-4-1.1(a)(1)(C),(c)(1). Here, Beaty does not challenge that
he delivered the methamphetamine to Taylor; rather, his sole contention is that
the State failed to establish that the weight of the delivered methamphetamine
was between one and five grams to warrant a Level 4 felony conviction.
Dealing less than a gram of methamphetamine is chargeable as a Level 5
felony. I.C. § 35-48-4-1.1(a)(1)(C).
[10] Because the weight of the drugs enhanced the dealing offense from a Level 5
felony to a Level 4 felony, it is an essential element that the State was required
to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Halsema v. State, 823 N.E.2d 668, 673
(Ind. 2005). In order to prove the weight element of a drug or controlled
substance, “the State must either offer evidence of its actual, measured weight
or demonstrate that the quantity of the drugs or controlled substances is so large
as to permit a reasonable inference that the element of weight has been
established.” Id. at 674. Here, the State presented evidence of the actual,
measured weight of the methamphetamine found in Beaty’s possession—which
amounted to 1.01 grams with a margin of error of .02 grams in either direction.
[11] To establish the weight of the methamphetamine that Beaty delivered to Taylor,
however, the State relied on evidence indicating that Beaty and Taylor had
specifically agreed to exchange one gram of methamphetamine for $100.00—
the typical rate for a gram of methamphetamine—and that Beaty had “split [the
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 30A05-1706-CR-1366 | December 29, 2017 Page 6 of 7

methamphetamine rock] in half,” keeping slightly over one gram in his
possession. (Tr. p. 86). The State does not contend that there was such a large
quantity of methamphetamine that the weight could be established by inference.
Instead, the State relies on caselaw indicating that the weight of drugs may be
established from testimony by “those who regularly use or deal in the substance
or developed an acute ability to assess the weight of the drugs in which they
deal” as well as from law enforcement officers “who regularly investigate
methamphetamine crimes to establish the weight of the final product.” Buelna
v. State, 20 N.E.3d 137, 147-48 (Ind. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted).
We are unpersuaded by the State’s arguments.
[12] “[O]nly direct evidence, not circumstantial evidence, may sustain a weight
enhancement.” Id. at 148. Here, there is no evidence that any law enforcement
officer observed or handled the methamphetamine that was transferred to
Taylor to be able to testify as to its weight based on experience. Also, Beaty
never testified regarding the weight of the methamphetamine, and the fact that
Beaty went to the house on Mount Street in order to weigh his remaining
methamphetamine is indicative of his lack of “an acute ability to assess the
weight” based on his frequent use. Id. at 147. There is no evidence as to the
methamphetamine rock’s weight prior to Beaty splitting it with Taylor, and
there is absolutely nothing in the record to support a finding that Beaty so
precisely split the rock in half that the portion delivered to Taylor was identical
in weight to the 1.01 grams retained by Beaty. Thus, we conclude that the State
Court of Appeals of Indiana | Memorandum Decision 30A05-1706-CR-1366 | December 29, 2017 Page 7 of 7

failed to meet its burden, and Beaty’s conviction cannot stand.1 We remand
this case to the trial court with instructions to enter judgment for dealing in
methamphetamine as a Level 5 felony and to impose a new sentence
accordingly. See Halsema, 823 N.E.2d at 675-76 (directing the trial court to
impose a sentence for lesser charge where weight of drugs was not proven to
support enhanced charge).2

Outcome: Based on the foregoing, we conclude that the State presented insufficient
evidence to support Beaty’s Level 4 felony conviction for dealing in
methamphetamine. We remand this matter to the trial court to enter judgment
and resentence as a Level 5 felony.

Reversed and remanded.

Plaintiff's Experts:

Defendant's Experts:


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