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State v. Vaughn

Court of Appeals of Idaho

August 31, 2018

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
RONALD EUGENE VAUGHN, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Samuel A. Hoagland, District Judge.

         Judgment of conviction for trafficking in heroin, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of paraphernalia, affirmed.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Brian R. Dickson, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Kale D. Gans, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

          LORELLO, JUDGE

         Ronald Eugene Vaughn appeals from his judgment of conviction for trafficking in heroin, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of paraphernalia. On the first day of trial, Vaughn made assertions related to a speculative Miranda[1] issue that he thought could form the basis of an untimely motion to suppress. The district court stated that it was not going to grant any motion to suppress based on what it heard regarding any alleged Miranda violation. On appeal, Vaughn challenges the district court's "order admitting his un-Mirandized statements." For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

         I.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Vaughn was under investigation by state and federal law enforcement officials for trafficking in heroin. As part of the investigation, a federal search warrant for a GPS tracking device was obtained and attached to Vaughn's vehicle because it was suspected that Vaughn was travelling to Salt Lake City to purchase heroin and transport it back to Idaho. Vaughn subsequently travelled to Salt Lake City and back in one day, which law enforcement tracked via the GPS. While Vaughn was driving back to Boise, a patrol officer observed Vaughn speeding and conducted a traffic stop of his vehicle. Before making contact with Vaughn, a second officer arrived to assist. A canine officer also responded, arriving almost simultaneously with the stop. The initial officer made contact with Vaughn and requested that he step out of the vehicle. The canine was deployed and alerted on the vehicle. A search of the vehicle by two of the officers uncovered heroin, methamphetamine, and drug paraphernalia.

         While the search was being conducted, Vaughn sat on the guardrail nearby, talking with one of the officers. Without being questioned, Vaughn informed the officer that there was drug paraphernalia in the vehicle and admitted that the items in the vehicle were Vaughn's. The officer then asked Vaughn questions regarding his drug use, and Vaughn admitted he had used methamphetamine approximately thirty minutes prior to the traffic stop. A grand jury indicted Vaughn for trafficking in heroin, I.C. § 37-2732B(a)(6)(B); possession of a controlled substance, I.C. § 37-2732(c)(1); and possession of drug paraphernalia, I.C. § 37-2734A(1).

         Vaughn filed a motion to suppress, challenging the stop, which the district court denied. The State subsequently filed an I.R.E. 404(b) motion to admit evidence of Vaughn's ongoing heroin distribution and trafficking, including post-Miranda statements Vaughn made during his interview with law enforcement on the day of his arrest. Vaughn objected to the State's motion as it related to evidence of prior drug trafficking, arguing the evidence was unfairly prejudicial, unnecessary, cumulative, and inflammatory. At the hearing on its I.R.E. 404(b) motion, in addition to presenting argument on its motion, the State also presented argument that the incriminating statements Vaughn made during the traffic stop should be admitted.[2] Those statements included, "I have a syringe in the truck;" Vaughn's admission to using methamphetamine thirty minutes prior to the traffic stop; and Vaughn asking the officer whether Vaughn was being arrested just for a syringe. In response, Vaughn's counsel discussed statements Vaughn made during his interview with a detective and special agent as well as statements Vaughn made to the patrol officers at the time of the traffic stop:

Your Honor, the State disclosed on Thursday the audio--redacted audio of [Vaughn's] interview with Detective Bruner and Special Agent Williams. Prior to that, I did not have any type of audio of that interview.
[Vaughn] tells me that a lot of the information he provided to these officers [was] prior to being advised of his right to remain silent or his right to have an attorney present.
I didn't get a chance to look into that more--in more detail. Of course, this would delay proceedings in search of another Motion to Suppress those ...

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