Raymond Marling's appeal of the failure of his post conviction relief petition has been affirmed by the Indiana Court of Appeals.
A jury convicted Marling of several drug related charges in Oct. 2013, including the B felony of possession of cocaine with intent to deliver; and possession of cocaine and of a firearm, C felony. He was also adjudicated a habitual offender and sentenced to 38 years.
His conviction was later appealed but affirmed by the court.
In April 2015 he next filed for post-conviction relief which was eventually denied.
The issue of the police officer opening a locked box in Marling's automobile first arose as a motion to suppress evidence in the trial. The same issue has also figured in appeals and in the post-conviction relief.
Attorneys argued that the officer was not permitted to open the container with a screwdriver because it caused "unreasonable damage to property" and that a warrant should have been obtained.
Inside the lock box were .51 grams of cocaine, a cutting agent, drug capsules and baggie with residue.
North Vernon Police policy states that officers need to inventory any "suitcases, boxes and other container" found in a vehicle to be impounded. Police policy directs if "extreme measures and/or unreasonable potential damage to property" is necessary to open the container, the officer should not open the container.
The court found that nothing in the record "reflects any damage to the box" and the photograph of the box "does not reveal any actual damage" and that the defendant "never complained of any damage."
Opening the box fulfilled the purposes of the search: protecting police from possible danger.
The appeal also asserted ineffective assistance of counsel, which the appeals court also failed to confirm.