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State of Idaho v. Stefan James Pfeiffer

November 29, 2012

STATE OF IDAHO,
PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
STEFAN JAMES PFEIFFER,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Thomas F. Neville, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Perry, Judge Pro Tem

2012 Unpublished Opinion No. 746

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

THIS IS AN UNPUBLISHED OPINION AND SHALL NOT BE CITED AS AUTHORITY

Order denying motion to suppress, affirmed; order denying Idaho Criminal Rule 35 motion, affirmed.

Stefan James Pfeiffer appeals from his judgment of conviction, entered following his conditional plea of guilty to trafficking in methamphetamine or amphetamine, Idaho Code § 37- 2732B(a)(4). Specifically, Pfeiffer challenges the district court's orders denying his motion to suppress and denying his Idaho Criminal Rule 35 motion. We affirm.

I.

FACTS AND PROCEDURE

Dispatch notified officers of a 911 call from an individual at a hotel making irrational statements and threats. Officer Durbin, Corporal Winters, and Officer Parker responded and found the subject, who was later identified as Thomas Massey. Massey claimed that people put a "hit" out on his life and said that if anybody tried to kill him he would shoot them or run over them with his car. Massey further claimed that the person who put the hit on him was inside Massey's hotel room. Officer Durbin was concerned for the safety of the person inside the hotel room, and sent Corporal Winters to the room to determine if the person needed assistance. Corporal Winters pounded on the door of the room for approximately fifteen to twenty minutes. His knocks were so loud that four or five hotel guests opened their doors to see what was going on. However, nobody inside the room responded to the knocking.

Officer Parker and Corporal Winters obtained a key for the room from hotel management and opened the door. As the door swung open, they saw a person, later identified as Pfeiffer, laying on a bed with his back to them. Upon entering the room, the officers repeatedly yelled at Pfeiffer in an attempt to arouse him. Pfeiffer did not respond to the officers' commands. Pfeiffer finally awoke, but the officers were unable to ascertain his well-being, or any potential threats to their own safety, because Pfeiffer's face, chest, and hands were not visible. The officers noticed a clear plastic baggie containing a white substance in plain view on the bed next to Pfeiffer. Once Pfeiffer became alert enough to understand the officers' commands, the officers removed him from the room. Thereafter, a narcotics detective arrived and received consent from Massey to search the hotel room. The officers reentered the room and collected drugs and drug paraphernalia found within the room.

After being charged with trafficking in methamphetamine or amphetamine, Pfeiffer filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained during the search, claiming the officers illegally entered the room. The district court denied the motion, finding that the search was reasonable to ensure the welfare of Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer subsequently entered a conditional guilty plea and the district court imposed a unified sentence of twelve years with three years determinate. Pfeiffer then filed a Rule 35 motion, which the district court denied. Pfeiffer timely appeals.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Motion to Suppress

Pfeiffer claims the district court erred in finding that it was reasonable for police officers to enter the hotel room pursuant to their community caretaking function. Instead, Pfeiffer alleges the district court should have found the entrance to be an unreasonable, warrantless search and seizure, and ...


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