450 P.3d 315 (Idaho 2019), 46973, State v. Gonzales

Docket Nº46973
Citation450 P.3d 315
Opinion JudgeBEVAN, Justice
Party NameSTATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Gilbert Alexander GONZALES, Jr., Defendant-Appellant.
AttorneyEric D. Frederickson, Idaho State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, attorney for Appellant. Jenevieve C. Swinford argued. Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, attorney for Respondent. John C. McKinney argued.
Judge PanelChief Justice BURDICK and Justices BRODY, STEGNER and MOELLER concur.
Case DateOctober 07, 2019
CourtSupreme Court of Idaho

Page 315

450 P.3d 315 (Idaho 2019)

STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent,

v.

Gilbert Alexander GONZALES, Jr., Defendant-Appellant.

No. 46973

Supreme Court of Idaho, Boise

October 7, 2019

Page 316

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 317

Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Lansing L. Haynes, District Judge.

The District Court’s order denying Gonzales’ motion to suppress is reversed . Accordingly, the judgment of conviction is likewise vacated .

Eric D. Frederickson, Idaho State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, attorney for Appellant. Jenevieve C. Swinford argued.

Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, attorney for Respondent. John C. McKinney argued.

BEVAN, Justice

I. NATURE OF THE CASE

Gilbert Gonzales, Jr., appeals the district court’s order denying his motion to suppress evidence obtained following a warrantless seizure. Gonzales was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine and introducing or attempting to introduce methamphetamine into a correctional facility. Gonzales moved to suppress, asserting the

Page 318

warrantless seizure was without legal justification and the evidence obtained was fruit of that illegality. The district court denied the motion after finding the seizure was lawful. The Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s order denying the motion to suppress. This Court granted the State’s petition for review. We now reverse the district court’s order denying Gonzales’ motion to suppress and vacate the judgment of conviction.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

At about 1:30 a.m. on March 3, 2017, Officer Joseph Scholten of the Coeur d’Alene Police Department was patrolling a shared parking lot between the La Quinta Inn & Suites and Shari’s Restaurant. Both businesses were open. During his patrol, Officer Scholten observed a black Chevy Blazer parked in a dark area between the two businesses. Soon after, Officer Scholten observed a woman exit the vehicle and walk toward the La Quinta entrance. Officer Scholten recognized this woman from recent criminal investigations as Arielle Padel. Officer Scholten was familiar with Padel because she had recently reported her vehicle as stolen from an associate and later reported her vehicle had not been stolen. Additionally, Officer Scholten knew that Padel, among other associates, was suspected of firearm thefts in the area.

Based on the time of Padel’s presence in the parking lot, the location of her vehicle in the darkened area, and his familiarity with Padel, Officer Scholten exited his patrol car and tried to speak with Padel. Padel made it clear she did not want to talk and continued to walk toward the La Quinta entrance. Officer Scholten found Padel’s behavior abnormal and suggestive of Padel trying to get away from Officer Scholten and her own vehicle. After Padel left, Officer Scholten approached Padel’s vehicle from the passenger side, shined his flashlight inside the vehicle and observed a man, later identified as Gonzales, lying on the floor with his head, side, and feet on the floor.1 At that time, Officer Scholten turned the flashlight and shined it on himself to show Gonzales he was a police officer. Gonzales then exited the vehicle through the driver’s side door. As Gonzales exited, Scholten observed Gonzales to be nervous and twitching and he instructed Gonzales to put his hands behind his back so Scholten could pat him down for weapons. Gonzales made a slight movement as if to put his hands behind his back, but then ran away. Officer Scholten followed Gonzales, caught him, detained him, and conducted a pat down for weapons. While detained, Officer Scholten learned Gonzales was on probation and contacted his probation officer who issued an agent’s warrant for his arrest. Scholten placed Gonzales under arrest. During a later search at the jail, methamphetamine was found on Gonzales.

The State charged Gonzales with one count of possession of a controlled substance, in violation of Idaho Code section 37-2732(c)(1), and one count of introducing major contraband into a correctional facility, in violation of Idaho Code section 18-2510(3). Gonzales moved to suppress all evidence obtained following the warrantless seizure. Gonzales argued Officer Scholten lacked reasonable suspicion to seize him before or after he fled. The State did not file a response to the motion.

A hearing on Gonzales’ motion to suppress was held and the district court orally denied the motion to suppress. The district court determined that Gonzales was detained when Officer Scholten shined his flashlight into the vehicle, revealed he was a law enforcement officer, and may have suggested a need for Gonzales to exit the vehicle. The district court held there was reasonable suspicion for this detention based on Padel’s involvement in prior investigations, Padel walking away from Officer Scholten, and Gonzales lying down in the backseat of Padel’s vehicle that was located in the darkest part of the parking lot. The district court also found Officer Scholten’s reasonable suspicion was "heightened" when Gonzales fled. Finally, the district court determined Officer Scholten had

Page 319

probable cause to believe that Gonzales obstructed and delayed an officer once he fled. Thus, the district court determined the seizures were reasonable. Based on these findings, the district court later issued a written order denying Gonzales’ motion to suppress.

Under a Rule 11 plea agreement, Gonzales pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and entered an Alford

2 plea to introducing major contraband into a correctional facility. Gonzales reserved the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. Gonzales timely appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed. This Court granted the State’s petition for review.

III. ISSUE ON APPEAL

Did the district court err when it denied Gonzales’ motion to suppress?

IV. STANDARD OF REVIEW

"When reviewing a case on petition for review from the Court of Appeals this Court gives due consideration to the decision reached by the Court of Appeals, but directly reviews the decision of the trial court." State v. Schmierer, 159 Idaho 768, 770, 367 P.3d 163, 165 (2016).

When this Court reviews a district court’s order granting or denying a motion to suppress, "the standard of review is bifurcated." State v. Purdum, 147 Idaho 206, 207, 207 P.3d 182, 183 (2009) "This Court will accept the trial court’s findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous." Id. (citing State v. Watts, 142 Idaho 230, 232, 127 P.3d 133, 135 (2005)). Even so, "this Court may freely review the trial court’s application of constitutional principles in light of the facts found." Id. (citing State v. Diaz, 144 Idaho 300, 302, 160 P.3d 739, 741 (2007)).

"Determinations of reasonable suspicion are reviewed de novo ." State v. Morgan, 154 Idaho 109, 111, 294 P.3d 1121, 1123 (2013) (citing State v. Munoz, 149 Idaho 121, 127, 233 P.3d 52, 58 (2010)). "The review must be based on the totality of the circumstances rather than examining each of the officer’s observations in isolation." Id. (citing United States v. Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266, 274, 122 S.Ct. 744, 151 L.Ed.2d 740 (2002)).

V. ANALYSIS

  1. The district court erred in denying Gonzales’ motion to suppress because Officer Scholten lacked reasonable, articulable suspicion to seize Gonzales at the vehicle.

Gonzales argues the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress on two grounds. First, Gonzales argues the district court should have granted the motion to suppress because Officer Scholten did not have reasonable suspicion to seize Gonzales at the vehicle. Second, Gonzales argues the evidence found at the jail was fruit of the unlawful seizure in the parking lot. The State maintains Officer Scholten had reasonable suspicion to seize Gonzales. Specifically, the State argues Gonzales has failed to show the district court erred in determining that, even if Gonzales was briefly detained in the vehicle, that detention was supported by reasonable suspicion, and even were it not, Gonzales’ flight provided new reasonable suspicion to seize him— attenuated from the initial seizure. For the reasons to be discussed below, we hold the district court erred in denying Gonzales’ motion to suppress.

a. The State failed to adequately preserve its argument that Gonzales was seized after he fled and was subsequently caught.

To begin, the State argues that Officer Scholten did not seize Gonzales until after Gonzales took flight. The State asserts that Officer Scholten shining his flashlight into the interior of the vehicle did not transform an otherwise consensual encounter into a seizure. Thus, the State argues suppression is unwarranted because the seizure after Gonzales fled was supported by reasonable suspicion, attenuating any possible illegality that occurred before. On the other hand, Gonzales argues the State conceded the issue of when the seizure occurred before the district court and cannot argue otherwise on appeal.

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"Issues not raised below will not be considered by this court on appeal, and the parties will be held to the theory upon which the case was presented to the lower court." State v. Garcia-Rodriguez, 162 Idaho 271, 275, 396 P.3d 700, 704 (2017) (quoting Heckman Ranches, Inc. v. State, By & Through Dep’t of Pub. Lands, 99 Idaho 793, 799-800, 589 P.2d 540, 546-47 (1979)). We recently explained, "[w]e will not hold that a trial court erred in making a decision on an issue or a party’s position on an issue that it did not have the opportunity to address." State v. Gonzalez, 165 Idaho 95, 99, 439 P.3d 1267, 1271 (2019). We require "both the issue and the partys...

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9 practice notes
  • State v. Sarbacher, 122320 IDSCCR, 47280
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court of Idaho
    • December 23, 2020
    ...accept the trial court's findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous." State v. Gonzales, 165 Idaho 667, 671, 450 P.3d 315, 319 (2019) (quoting State v. Purdum, 147 Idaho 206, 207, 207 P.3d 182, 183 III. ANALYSIS On appeal, the parties primarily dis......
  • 462 P.3d 1110 (Idaho 2020), 47324, State v. Hayes
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court of Idaho
    • March 20, 2020
    ...Rule 404(b) did not apply. Accordingly, Hayes has waived this argument on appeal. See State v. Gonzales, 165 Idaho 667, 672-73, 450 P.3d 315, 320-21 (2019) (citing Bach v. Bagley, 148 Idaho 784, Page 1125 229 P.3d 1146, 1152 (2010)); see also I.A.R. 35(a)(6). For this re......
  • 467 P.3d 452 (Idaho 2020), 46097, State v. Bonner
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court of Idaho
    • July 14, 2020
    ...will accept the trial court's findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous." State v. Gonzales, 165 Idaho 667, 671, 450 P.3d 315, 319 (2019) (quoting State v. Purdum, 147 Idaho 206, 207, 207 P.3d 182, 183 "Determinations of reasonable suspicion are r......
  • State v. Kent, 111020 IDSCCR, 47163
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court of Idaho
    • November 10, 2020
    ...will accept the trial court's findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous." State v. Gonzales, 165 Idaho 667, 671, 450 P.3d 315, 319 (2019) (quoting State v. Purdum, 147 Idaho 206, 207, 207 P.3d 182, 183 III. Analysis The Fifth Amendment to the Constitut......
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9 cases
  • State v. Sarbacher, 122320 IDSCCR, 47280
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court of Idaho
    • December 23, 2020
    ...accept the trial court's findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous." State v. Gonzales, 165 Idaho 667, 671, 450 P.3d 315, 319 (2019) (quoting State v. Purdum, 147 Idaho 206, 207, 207 P.3d 182, 183 III. ANALYSIS On appeal, the parties primarily dis......
  • 462 P.3d 1110 (Idaho 2020), 47324, State v. Hayes
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court of Idaho
    • March 20, 2020
    ...Rule 404(b) did not apply. Accordingly, Hayes has waived this argument on appeal. See State v. Gonzales, 165 Idaho 667, 672-73, 450 P.3d 315, 320-21 (2019) (citing Bach v. Bagley, 148 Idaho 784, Page 1125 229 P.3d 1146, 1152 (2010)); see also I.A.R. 35(a)(6). For this re......
  • 467 P.3d 452 (Idaho 2020), 46097, State v. Bonner
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court of Idaho
    • July 14, 2020
    ...will accept the trial court's findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous." State v. Gonzales, 165 Idaho 667, 671, 450 P.3d 315, 319 (2019) (quoting State v. Purdum, 147 Idaho 206, 207, 207 P.3d 182, 183 "Determinations of reasonable suspicion are r......
  • State v. Kent, 111020 IDSCCR, 47163
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court of Idaho
    • November 10, 2020
    ...will accept the trial court's findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous." State v. Gonzales, 165 Idaho 667, 671, 450 P.3d 315, 319 (2019) (quoting State v. Purdum, 147 Idaho 206, 207, 207 P.3d 182, 183 III. Analysis The Fifth Amendment to the Constitut......
  • Free signup to view additional results