INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN) – The man convicted of shooting and killing Southport police officer Aaron Allan in 2017 lost his appeal.
Jason Brown had challenged his murder conviction following a 2022 bench trial. Judge Mark Stoner found him guilty and sentenced him to 58 years in prison, with 3 years suspended.
Brown took his case to the Indiana Court of Appeals, claiming his right to due process was violated when the state failed to preserve a blood sample and instead relied on the analysis of a urinary sample. He also believed the state presented insufficient evidence that he “knowingly or intentionally killed Lieutenant Allan.”
On the afternoon of July 27, 2017, Brown was speeding when he made a sudden lane change on Madison Avenue, swerved and ran into the curb. The car slid across the road, hit the median and rolled over into a lawn, where it came to rest upside down.
Allan responded to the scene and checked on Brown, who witnesses described as “agitated and fidgety.” While Allan tried to calm Brown, informing him that medical crews were on their way, Brown became irate and pulled a firearm from his waistband.
He fired more than a dozen shots; Allan was hit multiple times and died from his wounds. Two other police officers who’d arrived at the scene, including one who was off duty, returned fire.
Brown’s attorney argued Brown was disoriented when he shot Allan and was unaware that he was a police officer. The appeal contended Brown suffered a head injury and/or seizure and was “not processing the scene correctly.”
On Aug. 15, 2017, more than two weeks after the crash, a detective went to Eskenazi Hospital to obtain a blood sample from Brown. A nurse informed the detective that the blood sample had been discarded the week before and said a urine sample was still available. The detective secured a warrant for the urine sample and sent it for analysis.
While the blood sample would’ve indicated what substances, if any, Brown had been on during the July 27 encounter, the urine sample could only explain what he’d ingested in the “hours, days or weeks before the incident,” his attorney argued.
The urine sample tested positive for THC, cocaine and two different types of a synthetic cannabinoid commonly known as “spice.” The urinalysis also showed the presence of hydromorphone, although that was likely due to pain medication doctors gave Brown at the hospital.
After a series of legal maneuverings in the case, Brown waived his right to a jury trial. In exchange, the state agreed not to pursue the death penalty. The trial court also ruled the state didn’t prove Brown knew Allan was a police officer when he shot him and dismissed the possibility of a life sentence without parole.
Judge Mark Stoner ultimately found Brown guilty of murder and possession of marijuana during his February 2022 bench trial. In delivering his verdict, Stoner said Brown would have known that firing shots at near point-blank range would certainly kill someone.
After weighing Brown’s appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s conviction in a 3-0 decision. Judge Melissa May wrote the court’s opinion, which was released on Thursday. Judges Leanna Weissmann and Peter Foley concurred.
From May’s conclusion:
The State did not violate Brown’s due process right to a defense when it did not preserve Brown’s blood sample because the State never possessed Brown’s blood sample. Further, any error in the admission of Brown’s urinalysis was harmless because there existed sufficient evidence outside of the urinalysis to disprove his defense. Finally, the State presented sufficient evidence to rebut Brown’s defense and prove that he committed murder. Accordingly, we affirm.
The Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case on Sept. 19, 2023, at Fountain Central High School in Veedersburg.