Drug and weapons charges against a Cloverdale man have been dismissed by the state after the man's attorney contended his client was arrested unlawfully.
Randy Aaron Sawyer, 22, was arrested Sept. 22 during a traffic stop. During the stop, his vehicle was searched, and when Sawyer was placed under arrest the vehicle was impounded.
Court documents said Sawyer was initially stopped on I-70 because an officer noticed Sawyer was traveling "well below the posted speed limit of 70 mph" and that the windshield of the vehicle he was driving was cracked in several places.
When he was stopped, Sawyer produced a valid driver's license and registration for the vehicle, but the proof of insurance he had was expired. Putnam County Sheriff's Department Lt. Dwight Simmons, who had stopped Sawyer, initially detained Sawyer for not having proof of current insurance.
Simmons placed Sawyer in the back of Simmon's police cruiser and proceeded to search Sawyer's vehicle. That search turned up an unlicensed handgun, scales with residue on them that tested positive for methamphetamine and what Simmons suspected was a cutting agent for diluting controlled substances -- and led to Sawyer being placed under arrest.
Sawyer was charged with possession of methamphetamine and carrying a handgun without a license, both Class C felonies punishable by up to eight years in prison. The state also sought to have Sawyer deemed a habitual offender.
Sawyer's lawyer, James Hullen Holder Jr. of Bainbridge, argued at a Jan. 22 suppression hearing in Putnam County Circuit Court that under Indiana law, having no proof of insurance in a vehicle is an infraction, and that Simmons had no right to impound Sawyer's vehicle or search it. The next step, Holder said, should have been a citation and a court date for Sawyer during which he would have been required to produce proof of insurance.
Holder's motion to suppress was granted on Feb. 3. The state filed a dismissal on Feb. 9, and that order was issued on Feb. 10. Sawyer was released from jail on Feb. 13.
Sawyer was on parole through the Terre Haute Parole District when he was arrested in Putnam County. He was released from Putnam County on his own recognizance on Sept. 23, but remained in jail on a parole hold.
Sawyer has done prison time for a number of offenses, including possession of cocaine or narcotic drugs, possession of chemical reagents or precursors and forgery.