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State v. Horton

Court of Appeals of Idaho

November 27, 2018

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JOSETTE MARIE HORTON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District, State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. Cynthia K. C. Meyer, District Judge.

         Judgment of conviction for felony introduction of major contraband into a correctional facility and felony possession of a controlled substance, affirmed.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Ben P. McGreevy, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Theodore S. Tollefson, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

          GUTIERREZ, JUDGE

         Josette Marie Horton appeals from her judgment of conviction for felony introduction of major contraband into a correctional facility and felony possession of a controlled substance. Horton argues that the district court erred in denying her motion to suppress evidence. On appeal, Horton asserts the district court erred in ruling that an expired registration from the state of Washington provided reasonable suspicion to conduct a traffic stop of her vehicle. For the reasons below, we affirm.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Around midnight in northern Idaho, an officer observed a vehicle without a front license plate. The vehicle was being driven by Horton. The officer turned his vehicle around to investigate whether Horton's vehicle was registered in Idaho. As the officer did so, Horton's vehicle accelerated and turned sharply. The vehicle then stopped, at which point, the officer turned on his front lights and pulled up behind the parked vehicle. The vehicle was licensed and registered in Washington; however, the registration was expired. The officer approached the vehicle and questioned Horton regarding the expired registration. The officer observed white foam around Horton's mouth. Horton was also speaking rapidly, was unable to keep still, and was repeatedly licking her lips. Once backup had arrived, the officer informed Horton a K-9 unit had been requested. During the exchange, Horton stated there was a marijuana pipe behind her seat. Horton was then placed in handcuffs, and a drug detection dog was deployed. After the dog's alert, a subsequent search of the vehicle revealed a glass pipe, methamphetamine, and a scale with residue.

         Horton was then transported to the county jail, during which time, she admitted to using methamphetamine. The officer asked if Horton had additional drugs on her person, to which she responded in the negative. Upon intake at the county jail, more methamphetamine was found on Horton's person. Horton was charged with introduction of major contraband into a correctional facility, Idaho Code § 18-2510(3); possession of methamphetamine, I.C. § 37-2732(c)(1); driving under the influence, I.C. § 18-8004(1)(a); attempted eluding, I.C. § 49-1404(1); and possession of drug paraphernalia, I.C. § 37-2734A(1).

         Horton filed a motion to suppress the evidence, arguing I.C. § 49-430 does not apply to out-of-state vehicles. The district court inquired as to whether I.C. § 49-456[1] was the appropriate statute. The State argued either statute provided a proper legal basis for the stop. Ultimately, the district court ruled that it is Idaho law that "vehicles operating in Idaho have current registration" and that officers have "reasonable, articulable suspicion for conducting a traffic stop when they perceive a vehicle with expired registration tabs." Because the registration tabs were expired, the district court found there was reasonable suspicion and denied the motion to suppress.

         Horton entered a guilty plea to felony introduction of major contraband and felony possession of a controlled substance, reserving her right to appeal the denial of her motion to suppress. Horton timely appeals.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The 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).

         III. ...


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