ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE:
DAVID A. BROOKS STEVE CARTER
Lyons, Sullivan & Brooks Attorney General of Indiana
GARY DAMON SECREST
Deputy Attorney General
COURT OF APPEALS OF INDIANA
TRACI JACOBS, )
vs. ) No. 75A03-0305-CR-179
STATE OF INDIANA, )
APPEAL FROM THE STARKE CIRCUIT COURT
The Honorable David P. Matsey, Judge
Cause No. 75C01-0301-FB-1
February 10, 2004
OPINION - FOR PUBLICATION
Traci Jacobs (Jacobs) was convicted of Class B felony dealing in methamphetamine,
B felony conspiracy to deal in methamphetamine,
and Class A misdemeanor resisting law
in Starke Circuit Court. Jacobs appeals, raising the following restated issues
for appellate review:
I. Whether the testimony of a State witness was incredibly dubious;
II. Whether the admission of two items into evidence was error.
Concluding that the incredible dubiosity rule is inapplicable to the facts of this
case and the admission of evidence in question was harmless error, we affirm.
Facts and Procedural History
On January 11, 2003, Jacobs, Michael Manns (Manns), and several other individuals smoked
the last of their methamphetamine in Sherry Gross-Wiremans (Wiremans) trailer located at 5121
Driftwood Lane in North Judson, Indiana.
Shortly thereafter, this group began manufacturing methamphetamine. Jacobs involvement in this production
included, among other tasks, the removal of lithium strips from batteries with side
cutters and pliers. Tr. p. 384. Jacobs also negotiated the sale
of the projected methamphetamine to Ron Fisher, who indicated that he could wholesale
the product for $225.
The subsequent production of methamphetamine produced an odor that could be detected far
from the confines of Wiremans trailer. Consequently, the Starke County Sheriffs Department
arrived to investigate. When the occupants of Wiremans trailer saw the sheriffs
deputies, they fled. Subsequently, Deputy Bret Hansen encountered Jacobs behind a garage
and yelled, Police Stop! twice in Jacobs direction. Tr. p. 219.
Jacobs attempted to flee, but Deputy Hansen was able to catch her and
place her under arrest.
After obtaining a search warrant, the deputies entered Wiremans trailer. Upon entering,
the deputies discovered active methamphetamine laboratories in two bedrooms, a purse with Jacobs
library card, pliers, and vice grips in it, and Manns passed out in
one of the bedrooms. Manns apparently had passed out as a result
of the odors emanating from the methamphetamine production process.
The State charged Jacobs by information with Class B felony dealing in methamphetamine,
Class B felony conspiracy to deal in methamphetamine, and Class A misdemeanor resisting
law enforcement. Jacobs proceeded to jury trial on February 13, 2003, and
the jury found Jacobs guilty on all counts on February 15, 2003.
The trial court sentenced Jacobs to ten-years executed in the Department of Correction
for her Class B felony dealing in methamphetamine conviction, ten-years executed in the
Department of Correction for her Class B felony conspiracy to deal in methamphetamine
conviction, and one-year executed in the Starke County Jail for her Class A
misdemeanor resisting law enforcement conviction. The trial court also ordered Jacobs sentences
to be served concurrently and gave Jacobs time-served credit of 120 days.
Jacobs now appeals.
I. Incredible Dubiosity
Jacobs contends that the evidence supporting her conviction is insufficient because the testimony
of the States chief witness, Manns, is incredibly dubious.
In addressing a claim of insufficient evidence, an appellate court must consider only
the probative evidence and reasonable inferences supporting the judgment, without weighing the evidence
or assessing witness credibility, and determine whether a reasonable trier of fact could
have found guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Corbett v. State, 764 N.E.2d
622, 626 (Ind. 2002). However, under the incredible dubiosity rule, a reviewing
court may impinge upon the fact-finders responsibility to judge witness credibility when a
sole witness presents inherently contradictory testimony which is equivocal or the result of
coercion and there is a complete lack of circumstantial evidence. Id. (quoting
Tillman v. State, 642 N.E.2d 221, 223 (Ind. 1994)).
The application of the incredible dubiosity rule is precluded when circumstantial evidence supports
a conviction. Id. Jacobs library card, pliers, and vice grips found
in a purse is very strong circumstantial evidence suggesting that Jacobs was involved
in the production of methamphetamine and corroborates Manns testimonywhich indicated that, despite her
pregnancy, Jacobs was involved in the use, production, and sale of methamphetamine.
Tr. p. 300. Furthermore, Jacobs fled after the sheriffs department arrived at
Wiremans trailer. See Gee v. State, 526 N.E.2d 1152, 1154 (Ind. 1988)
(Flight from the scene of a crime may be considered circumstantial evidence of
Because of the circumstantial evidence of Jacobs guilt, the incredible dubiosity rule may
not be applied to this case, and sufficient evidence was presented to support
II. The Admission of Evidence
The decision to admit or exclude evidence is a matter within the sound
discretion of the trial court. Pickens v. State, 764 N.E.2d 295, 297 (Ind.
Ct. App. 2002), trans. denied. An abuse of discretion occurs if a
trial court's decision is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts
and circumstances before the court. Id. Even if the trial court
abused its discretion in admitting evidence, we will not reverse a conviction if
the error is harmless. Bonner v. State, 650 N.E.2d 1139, 1141 (Ind.
The admission of the search warrant
Jacobs contends that the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted the
search warrant used to gain access to Wiremans trailer. The State concedes
that the trial court abused its discretion, but contends that Jacobs has failed
to demonstrate that the error was prejudicial. Br. of Appellee at 7.
If a trial court improperly admits a search warrant, a defendant must demonstrate
that the admission is prejudicial before his or her conviction may be vacated.
Guajardo v. State, 496 N.E.2d 1300, 1303 (Ind. 1986). Jacobs attempt
to demonstrate prejudice is confined entirely to commenting upon the lack of independent
evidence of guilt and fails to demonstrate that there is an aspect of
the search warrant that prejudiced her at trial.
presence of independent evidence of guilt is often useful when determining whether an
error contributed to a verdict. However, before reversal may be had, the
defendant must meet the
initial burden of demonstrating that there is information in
or an aspect of the search warrant that could contribute to his or
her verdict if viewed by a jury.
Prejudicial information is often contained in a search warrant; however, this is not
always the case. Guajardo, 496 N.E.2d at 1303. The warrant that
allowed the deputies to enter Wiremans trailer contains no mention of Jacobs and
contains no allegations or information that was not exposed to the jury at
Jacobs trial by other means.
Ex. Vol., States p. 68. Because
Jacobs failed to demonstrate that the admission of the search warrant contributed to
her verdict and it is far from apparent that the admission had such
an affect, she is not entitled to relief as a result of the
The admission of Jacobs boots.
During the first day of trial, one of the States witnesses noticed that
the boots Jacobs wore at trial were similar to the boots found in
one of the rooms where methamphetamine was being manufactured. Consequently, after the
first day of trial, the State confiscated Jacobs boots and entered them into
On appeal, Jacobs asserts that her boots should not have been admitted on
the basis that they were irrelevant to her guilt. In so asserting,
Jacobs states, [c]an the possession of womens black leather boots . . .
make it more or less likely that Traci Jacobs was manufacturing methamphetamine?
Br. of Appellant at 9. Presumably, Jacobs is asserting that the answer
to this question is obviously no.
Jacobs assertion concerning the lack of influence of the admission of her boots
also speaks to the resulting prejudice of the admission. Furthermore, the phrase
[t]hose exhibits were, in fact, prejudicial to Traci Jacobs defense constitutes the entirety
of Jacobs prejudice argument. Thus, Jacobs failure to demonstrate prejudice and the
fact that prejudice is far from apparent render any possible error in the
admission of her boots harmless.
Jacobs is not entitled to the application of the incredible dubiosity rule, and
any errors in the admission of evidence were harmless.
SHARPNACK, J., and VAIDIK, J., concur.
Ind. Code § 35-48-4-1(a)(1)(A) (1998).
Footnote: Ind. Code §§ 35-48-4-1(a)(1)(A); 35-41-5-2 (1998).
Footnote: Ind. Code § 35-44-3-3 (a)(3) (1998).
Footnote: In light of Manns testimony, Jacobs library card, pliers, and vice grips
found in a purse, and Jacobs flight, we reject Jacobs assertion that there
is no independent evidence supporting her conviction.
Footnote: The presence of methamphetamine in Wiremans trailer was not in dispute in