Opinion No. 16
from the District Court of the Third Judicial District of the
State of Idaho, in and for Canyon County. Hon. James C.
Morfitt, District Judge.
district court's judgment of conviction is
D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for
Appellant. Ben P. McGreevy argued.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General, Boise, for Respondent.
John C. McKinney argued.
Jean Tryon ("Tryon") appeals her conviction for
possession of a controlled substance. Tryon contends that the
district court erred when it admitted certain statements
regarding the identity of the alleged controlled substance.
Tryon claims the admission of these statements violated her
constitutional right to confront witnesses against her
because the declarant was unavailable and she did not have a
prior opportunity to cross-examine him. Tryon also asserts
that the State did not present sufficient evidence to support
a conviction for possession of a controlled substance.
II. FACTS AND PROCEDURE
approximately 10:00 p.m. on February 1, 2016, a narcotics
detective was patrolling the neighborhood of North Indiana in
Caldwell, Idaho. The detective was watching a house he had
visited three or four times before to assist in misdemeanor
probation visits. The detective also testified that he had
previously found drugs and drug paraphernalia at the same
in the neighborhood, the detective saw a Ford truck that was
parked on the street near the house drive away. He testified
that he followed the truck, observed that the truck failed to
make a complete stop at two stop signs, and then pulled the
truck over. The driver was identified as Carl Ringcamp and
the passenger, Tryon, told the detective she and Ringcamp
were boyfriend and girlfriend.
the detective approached the driver's side of the
vehicle, he testified that he noticed the faint smell of
marijuana. Based on the odor, he asked Ringcamp to exit the
vehicle and follow him to the back of the truck. After a
short conversation, Ringcamp was taken into custody and
placed in the back of the patrol car. Another officer
arrived, and when Tryon exited the truck from the passenger
side, the detective testified he overheard Tryon say she was
not going to allow them to search her purse. The detective
asked her about the marijuana odor and about a marijuana pipe
that Ringcamp claimed to have left on the seat. Tryon
admitted it was a "weed pipe" and that she had it
in her pocket. The detective searched Tryon and found a
cylinder pipe or e-cigarette.
the detective searched the truck, he found the following: (1)
a small purse with stems and bits of black residue located in
the passenger side door panel; (2) a large purse on the
passenger side floorboard that was open and packed full of
items; (3) a black case that sat on top of everything in the
large open purse; (4) two hypodermic syringes and two glass
pipes in a purple Crown Royal bag that was inside the black
case, with one of the pipes having a white residue in its
burnt bottom; and (5) a small blue plastic case next to the
Crown Royal bag that held a baggie with a white crystallized
State charged Tryon with one count of possession of a
controlled substance, under Idaho Code section 37-2731(c)(1),
and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, under
Idaho Code section 37-2734A. Tryon pled not guilty and
proceeded to a trial by jury.
trial, the detective testified that seventy to eighty percent
of the time when he finds methamphetamine during an
investigation, he also finds syringes or pipes. Here, the
syringes, pipes, and the white crystalline substance were
"right next to each other." During direct
examination the detective was asked whether or not the white
crystalline substance he found looked like methamphetamine;
he answered "Yes."
State did not present laboratory tests that identified the
white crystalline substance as methamphetamine. Additionally,
the State could not locate Ringcamp at the time of
Tryon's trial and, therefore, he was unavailable to
testify. Nevertheless, over an objection by Tryon's
counsel on the basis of her right to confrontation, and after
an offer of proof by the State outside of the jury's
presence, the district court determined the statements made
by Ringcamp while he was in custody were nontestimonial and
permitted the detective to testify about those statements.
The State argued the detective's testimony offered proof
the substance was methamphetamine. The detective testified:
While he was in the back of my car, I asked him whose meth it
was and he stated it wasn't hers . . . He gave me a
couple other responses as well . . . He said again it
wasn't hers. And then, he later said, "It was mine.
cross-examination, the detective testified that he did not
submit the glass pipes, syringes, or baggies for DNA testing
or fingerprinting. The detective also did not get a blood or
urine sample from Tryon to test whether or not she had
methamphetamine in her system. Instead, the State relied
solely on circumstantial evidence to prove that the substance
was methamphetamine. In fact, the State's case-in-chief
relied, in part, on the testimony of the detective, who
testified he had dealt with methamphetamine on a weekly basis
in approximately 100 cases during his three years with the
Caldwell Police Department's "Street Crimes
Unit." Through his training and experience, the
detective further testified that he knew: 1) how to identify
methamphetamine (a white crystallized substance, small
crystals, and some powder); 2) methamphetamine had little to
no odor; 3) how it was packaged (in large sandwich baggies,
smaller zip-lock baggies, and "tear offs" of
plastic shopping bags that ...