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State v. Huck

Court of Appeals of Idaho

September 5, 2013

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
ROBERT LEROY HUCK, Defendant-Appellant.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

2013 Unpublished Opinion No. 659

Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Eric J. Wildman, District Judge. Hon. Richard D. Greenwood District Judge.

Judgments of conviction for possession of a controlled substance and for possession of drug paraphernalia, affirmed; order denying motion to suppress, affirmed.

Sara B. Thomas, State Appellate Public Defender; Justin M. Curtis, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

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

WALTERS, Judge Pro Tem

Robert Leroy Huck appeals from his judgments of conviction for possession of a controlled substance, Idaho Code § 37-2732(c), and for possession of drug paraphernalia, I.C. § 37-2734A. He contends that the district court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence. We affirm.

I.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the district court's findings of fact in the decision denying the motion to suppress. On June 18, 2011, Boise City Police Officers Montoya, Schiffler, Borgeau, and Phillips were working together as a "direct patrol team." Shortly before 7:30 p.m., Officer Phillips received information regarding a drug transaction occurring in a supermarket parking lot at the corner of Overland Road and Vista Avenue in Boise. Officer Phillips dispatched the other officers who were each in separate patrol vehicles to respond to the scene. He informed the officers that Huck may be in possession of narcotics and provided a description of Huck and the vehicle he was driving. In responding to the scene, Officer Montoya observed Huck driving westbound on Overland Road and proceeded to follow the vehicle from a distance of about two car lengths. The other officers followed behind at various car lengths.

At approximately 7:30 p.m., Officer Montoya witnessed Huck's vehicle make a northbound turn onto Roosevelt Street. Montoya proceeded to initiate a traffic stop based on his observation that Huck failed to utilize his signal for the period of time or distance as required by I.C. § 49-808(2), prior to making the turn. Officers Schiffler and Borgeau arrived at the scene within a few seconds of the stop. Officer Montoya obtained Huck's driver's license and informed him of the reason for the traffic stop, explaining that when Huck turned onto Roosevelt Street he did not engage his turn signal until he was already into the turn. After returning to his vehicle and running Huck's information through dispatch, Montoya asked Huck for permission to search his vehicle. Huck refused the request, stating that it was not his vehicle. Officer Montoya then asked Officer Schiffler to write the traffic citation while Montoya went to retrieve his K-9 drug dog.

After returning with the drug dog, Officer Montoya advised Huck that he was going to use the dog to conduct a sniff around the exterior of the vehicle and directed Huck to exit the vehicle and to stand next to Officer Borgeau. Officer Borgeau also directed Huck to exit the vehicle and directed him not to put his hands in his pockets. Officer Borgeau testified that Huck appeared nervous, was hesitant to exit the vehicle, and prior to exiting rolled up the window and locked the door. Officer Borgeau ordered Huck to place the keys on the top of the car, explaining that it was a "safety issue." Huck reluctantly complied, but questioned the request arguing that it was not his car. Officer Borgeau testified that after Huck exited the vehicle he turned away from him and towards the car, dropping his hands down towards the front of his waistband area and out of sight. This sudden movement immediately led Officer Borgeau to suspect Huck was either attempting to conceal evidence or retrieve a weapon. Officer Borgeau grabbed Huck by the forearm and led Huck to the rear of the vehicle for the purpose of conducting a pat-down search. Prior to conducting the pat-down, Officer Borgeau asked Huck if he had anything on his person that he (Officer Borgeau) needed to know about, including weapons, needles or anything that would hurt him. Huck responded he had no weapons or needles. When asked if he had "something else" on his person, Huck admitted to having methamphetamine in his pocket.

Meanwhile, the drug dog sniff of the vehicle's exterior resulted in an alert near the driver-side door. (According to the district court, the evidence was unclear whether the drug dog alerted first or whether Huck admitted to possessing methamphetamine first.) Officer Montoya proceeded to deploy the dog to conduct a sniff of the interior of the vehicle, resulting in the dog alerting to a black bag sitting on the passenger seat. A subsequent search of the bag by Montoya revealed seven syringes and a digital scale. Huck was subsequently placed under arrest. At no time prior to the arrest was Huck read his Miranda rights.[1] The period of time from the traffic stop until the time of the arrest was approximately ten minutes.

Huck was charged with possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, I.C. § 37-2732(c), a felony, and with possession of drug paraphernalia, I.C. § 37-2734A, a misdemeanor. Huck filed a motion to suppress evidence, asserting that the state lacked probable cause to conduct a traffic stop and that there was no reasonable, articulable suspicion to remove Huck from his vehicle. He further asserted that his detention was unduly prolonged; that the officers failed to give him Miranda warnings prior to questioning him at the scene; and that no evidence existed to show the drug dog's qualification. After a hearing, the district court denied Huck's motion. Huck entered conditional pleas of guilty to the charges, reserving his right to appeal the denial of the suppression motion. The district court entered a judgment of conviction, [2] and imposed a unified seven-year sentence with a three-year minimum period of confinement on the felony charge. The court imposed a jail term of 180 days on the misdemeanor charge and gave Huck credit for 180 days for incarceration served prior to the sentencing hearing. The district court entered an order retaining jurisdiction to allow consideration of release on probation pursuant to I.C. § 19-2601(4). Huck has appealed, asserting the district court erred by denying his motion to suppress.

II.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The standard of review of a suppression motion is bifurcated. The appellate court accepts the trial court's findings of fact that are supported by substantial evidence and exercises free review of the trial court's determination as to whether constitutional standards have been satisfied in light of the facts found. State v. Willoughby, 147 Idaho 482, 485-86, 211 P.3d 91, 94-95 (2009); State v. Atkinson, 128 Idaho 559, 561, 916 P.2d 1284, 1286 (Ct. App. 1996). Decisions regarding the credibility of witnesses and the weight to be given to evidence, together with the power to resolve factual conflicts and to draw factual inferences from the evidence, are matters vested in the trial court to be ...


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