GREENFIELD — A Greenfield man will wait in the Hancock County Jail for a month to be re-sentenced after the Indiana Court of Appeals decided the state didn’t prove the man sold enough methamphetamine to support a Level 4 felony conviction.
Christopher Beaty, 30, originally was convicted of one Level 4 felony count of dealing methamphetamine, one Level 6 felony count of possession of methamphetamine and one Class B misdemeanor of visiting a common nuisance.
But the state’s appellate court took issue with Level 4 felony, which required the state prove beyond a reason doubt the man had peddled 1 gram or more of meth. Beaty had his 10-year prison sentence overturned by the appellate court recently, with the panel of judges deciding it was “unpersuaded by the state’s arguments” the sale met that weight requirement at a jury trial held last year.
On Thursday, Beaty returned to the same Hancock County courtroom where a jury of local residents — after fewer than 15 minutes of deliberating — found Beaty guilty last year.
Beaty appeared in court Thursday without an attorney at his side, and he asked Hancock Circuit Court Judge Scott Sirk to assign a public defender to assist him in the case going forward.
Now, Beaty’s hearing has been reset for April 12. Rather than being returned to an Indiana Department of Correction prison, he’ll remain in the Hancock County, which Thursday held an inmate population of 177 — 20 more people than it’s meant to hold.
A Hancock County jury found Beaty guilty May 9 after a single-day trial in which he represented himself. He was sentenced to serve 10 years on June 2, and he filed an appeal from prison soon after, records show.
The Indiana Court of Appeals made its decision late last year and earlier this month ordered that Beaty be re-sentenced.
The court’s judges said that in order for Beaty to be found guilty of dealing meth as a Level 4 felony — which carries a penalty to two to 12 years — prosecutors needed to prove at trial that the amount of the drug Beaty sold to a friend was at least 1 gram but fewer than 5 grams, the court’s decision states.
Dealing fewer than 5 grams can be charged only as a Level 5 felony, which carried a lesser penalty of one to six years, according to court records.
Beaty’s appeal “does not challenge that he delivered the methamphetamine” but rather that “the state failed to establish that the weight of the delivered methamphetamine was between 1 and 5 grams,” the court of appeals decision reads.
Beaty and a friend drove to Indianapolis in January 2017 to buy meth, police said. Beaty split the drugs in half, giving some to the friend in exchange for $100 — the typical rate for 1 gram of methamphetamine, court documents state.
At trial, prosecutors told the jury the weight of the methamphetamine found in Beaty’s possession was “1.01 grams with a margin of error of .02 grams in either direction,” the court of appeals decision reads.
But to prove weight of the methamphetamine that Beaty delivered to his friend, prosecutors relied only on evidence of the agreed upon price Beaty and the friend had reached, according to the decision.
The appellate judges said, “… there is no evidence that any law enforcement officer observed or handled the methamphetamine that was transferred to (Beaty’s friend) to be able to testify as to its weight ….”
Greenfield attorney Gregg Brand, who served as stand-by counsel at Beaty’s original trial, was appointed to represent Beaty at the sentencing hearing next month.
The hearing in scheduled from 1:30 p.m. April 16 in Hancock Circuit Court. All proceedings are open to the public.