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State v. Rhall

Court of Appeals of Idaho

August 12, 2013

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
ROBERT WAGNER RHALL, III, Defendant-Appellant.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

2013 Unpublished Opinion No. 623

Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Jerome County. Hon. John K. Butler, District Judge.

Order of the district court denying suppression motion, affirmed.

Michael J. Wood, Twin Falls, for appellant.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Russell J. Spencer, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Russell J. Spencer argued.

LANSING, Judge

Robert Wagner Rhall, III appeals from his conviction for felony possession of marijuana. He entered a conditional guilty plea after the trial court denied his motion to suppress the evidence found in his pickup. We affirm the denial of the suppression motion.

I. BACKGROUND

At around noon on April 19, 2011, Idaho State Police Officer Garcia stopped a pickup for speeding on the freeway. Rhall was the driver. When Officer Garcia asked for Rhall's license and registration, he detected the odor of raw marijuana from within the vehicle.

On questioning, Rhall denied having marijuana in the pickup, but said he had carried marijuana in the vehicle several months earlier in California, where he had a medical marijuana permit. Officer Garcia asked Rhall to exit the vehicle and notified him that he would be performing a search of the vehicle. At the officer's request, Rhall removed the two dogs that had been riding in the cab with him. During the search of the pickup's passenger compartment, Officer Garcia found ashes and a stem in the ashtray, both of which he believed to be from marijuana. He also found $1, 400 in small bills in a small zip lock bag and $250 in a wallet. Officer Garcia later testified that the separated money was suspicious to him because it was a common practice of drug dealers to separate money brought to cover trip expenses from revenue derived from drug sales.

Officer Garcia was not satisfied that the marijuana ash and stem that he found in the cab was the source of the odor he had detected, because the odor was of raw marijuana, not burnt marijuana. He therefore sought to search the pickup bed, which was covered by a camper shell, and asked Rhall for the key to open the locked shell. Rhall told Officer Garcia that he did not have the key to the shell. Officer Garcia then called for a drug dog to conduct a free-air sniff around the vehicle.

The drug dog handler, Officer Gonzalez, arrived with her dog, Kenzo. Although Kenzo typically would start working on his own, on this occasion he initially would not work. In her later testimony, Officer Gonzalez said that Kenzo was distracted by environmental factors, including Rhall's two dogs and the passing traffic. The video recording from Officer Garcia's patrol car confirms the young dog's interest in Rhall's dogs and his general distraction, and the canine's lack of interest in Rhall's pickup. After several trips around the pickup, however, the dog finally gave what Gonzalez interpreted as several indications at various points on the vehicle.

When the canine sniff was completed, Officer Garcia notified Rhall that while he was not under arrest, his vehicle would be impounded to be searched. Rhall then asked Officer Garcia to obtain Rhall's jacket from the vehicle because he was cold. In searching the jacket's pockets before handing it to Rhall, Officer Garcia found the key for the camper shell. He then opened and searched inside the shell, finding several ounces of marijuana, scales, mushrooms, rolling papers, a bottle of oil, and several small baggies. Within one of the bags of drugs, Officer Garcia found an identification card with Rhall's name on it. Rhall was then arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance ...


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