INDIANAPOLIS — A southern Indiana man's 10-year sentence for meth-related crimes has been upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court, shedding light on a recent Indiana law that adds penalties if the crime was committed where it was "reasonably expected" that a child would be nearby.
On Aug. 21, 2014, which was a Thursday, Corey McAlpin's apartment in Madison was raided at 10 a.m. after police noticed a "horrible" odor, like that of "50 cats ... with no litter box," according to court documents.
The apartment was an active meth lab and was within 500 feet of Bicentennial Park, an open green space that is without a playground but surrounded by homes.
McAlpin, 27, was found guilty by a jury of various meth-related crimes. The jury also found that some of the crimes were committed in what is known as a drug-free zone.
Prosecutors in Jefferson County used the apartment's proximity to the park to enhance his charges to Level 4 felony dealing in methamphetamine, Level 5 felony possession of precursors and Level 5 felony possession of methamphetamine. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison but appealed his conviction.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, Indiana laws began focusing on where drug-related crimes were committed. Such crimes could not occur on a school bus or within 1,000 feet of school property, for example. These were drug-free zones and led to added penalties.
In 2014, the Indiana General Assembly reformed the state's criminal code. Among the changes were the inclusion that one element of a crime could be a whether a minor's presence was "reasonably expected" in the area of the crime.
Essentially, a prosecutor doesn't need to prove that a defendant anticipated a child would be in the area but rather what a reasonable person could expect under the circumstances.
McAlpin's defense attorney argued that most people would expect for a youth to be in school at that time of day.
The prosecution suggested that a grandparent could have taken an infant grandchild through the park or that it might be frequented by home-schooled children.
On Monday, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the conviction. McAlpin's release date from prison is 2023.