Opinion No. 4
from the District Court of the Third Judicial District, State
of Idaho, Canyon County. Hon. Thomas J. Ryan, District Judge.
denying a motion to suppress, affirmed.
D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Ben P.
McGreevy, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for
appellant. Ben P. McGreevy argued.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Kenneth K. Jorgensen,
Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Kenneth K.
Edward Snapp, Jr. appeals from the district court's order
denying his motion to suppress evidence of methamphetamine.
Snapp argues: (1) officers unlawfully searched the curtilage
of his residence without a warrant, and the open view
doctrine is inapplicable to the circumstance; (2) Snapp had a
reasonable expectation of privacy in a bag containing
methamphetamine because he did not abandon it; and (3) the
plain view exception to the warrant requirement did not apply
to the seizure and search of the bag. We affirm the district
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
on patrol shortly after midnight, an officer observed a
vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed, estimating it was
traveling at forty miles per hour in a twenty-miles-per-hour
zone. To confirm the vehicle's speed, the officer
followed the vehicle so he could use his radar. Without using
a turn signal, the vehicle turned right onto a long, paved,
private driveway, which turned to dirt after 100 yards. The
officer believed the vehicle turned onto public property. The
officer's radar indicated the vehicle was traveling at
thirty-seven miles per hour. The officer activated his
overhead lights, but the vehicle did not stop. Instead, the
vehicle continued on the driveway, rounded an outbuilding,
and pulled up to a residence. The officer observed the
vehicle's driver-side door open while the vehicle was
still moving and the driver of the vehicle toss a
dark-colored item toward the residence.
the vehicle stopped moving, the officer approached the
driver, Snapp, and inquired about the item Snapp threw from
the car toward the residence. Snapp denied throwing anything.
The officer handcuffed Snapp, placed him in his patrol
vehicle, and, together with backup officers who had arrived,
searched the area near the residence where Snapp threw the
item. At the suppression hearing, the officer testified he
focused his area of search to where Snapp threw the item,
beginning ten feet away from the residence, moving closer to
the residence as he searched, and using a flashlight. The
officer testified there was a pathway leading to the front
door. He also testified that he was not manipulating things
in the yard, digging through wood piles, moving weeds, or
looking under anything. However, Snapp's wife, who
observed the officers from the residence, testified the
officers were rifling and digging through items in the yard,
moving items like wood and weeds. After five to ten minutes,
the officer found the item about a foot from the residence,
three feet from the pathway to the front door, and behind
some weeds, which the officer testified was within reaching
distance from the pathway. The item was a black, zippered
handbag about the size of a football that contained a large
Ziploc baggy filled with what was later determined to be
119.5 grams of methamphetamine.
was charged with trafficking in methamphetamine and/or
amphetamine under Idaho Code § 37-2732B(a)(4). Snapp
filed a motion to suppress the evidence of methamphetamine,
arguing it was obtained as the result of a warrantless
search. The district court denied Snapp's motion. Snapp
then entered a conditional guilty plea, reserving his right
to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. The district
court imposed a unified sentence of seven years, with three
years determinate. Snapp timely appealed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
standard of review of a suppression motion is bifurcated.
When a decision on a motion to suppress is challenged, we
accept the trial court's findings of fact that are
supported by substantial evidence, but we freely review the
application of constitutional principles to the facts as
found. State v. Atkinson, 128 Idaho 559, 561, 916
P.2d 1284, 1286 (Ct. App. 1996). At a suppression hearing,
the power to assess the credibility of witnesses, resolve
factual conflicts, weigh evidence, and draw factual
inferences is vested in the trial court. State v.
Valdez-Molina, 127 Idaho 102, 106, 897 P.2d 993, 997
(1995); State v. Schevers, 132 Idaho 786, 789, 979
P.2d 659, 662 (Ct. App. 1999).