952 F.2d 408 (9th Cir. 1992), 90-50295, U.S. v. Roberts

Docket Nº:90-50295.
Citation:952 F.2d 408
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Thomas Mitchell ROBERTS, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:January 10, 1992
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Page 408

952 F.2d 408 (9th Cir. 1992)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Thomas Mitchell ROBERTS, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 90-50295.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

January 10, 1992

Editorial Note:

This opinion appears in the Federal reporter in a table titled "Table of Decisions Without Reported Opinions". (See FI CTA9 Rule 36-3 regarding use of unpublished opinions)

Argued and Submitted Dec. 4, 1991.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of California; No. CR-89-0481-03-JLI, J. Lawrence Irving, District Judge, Presiding.





Thomas Mitchell Roberts appeals his conviction and sentence, following a jury trial, for conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846, and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). We affirm both the conviction and the sentence.


On May 1, 1989, San Diego police officers stopped a car that had expired vehicle registration tags. When the driver, Annette Downard, could not produce either her driver's license or the vehicle's registration papers, the officers requested a license plate check and learned that the plate had been reported lost or stolen. The officers asked Downard and her two passengers, Calvin Pipkin and Martin Hogrefe, to get out of the car, and then noticed a sawed-off shotgun protruding from underneath the passenger seat. The officers arrested Pipkin and Hogrefe. A search of the two men incident to the arrest revealed narcotics paraphernalia and a controlled substance. When the police advised Downard that they could not release the car to her without some type of identification or registration, she stated that she had a driver's license in Room 306 at the Pacific Terrace Hotel.

When the officers and Downard reached the hotel, Downard became extremely nervous and stated that there was a person named Philip Hutchinson in the hotel room who was armed with a loaded gun and that there were drugs in the room. The hotel's records indicated that Room 306 as well as Room 321 were registered to Mary Miller and Room 321 was jointly registered to Paul Dolmer. Downard stated that as far as she knew, the people whom she was with in Room 306 had also rented Room 321. She told the police that "Paul Dolmer" was an alias used by Hutchinson, and stated that she was not sure which room Hutchinson was in. During their check of the hotel records, the police learned that a hotel clerk had called Room 306 to inform the occupants that Downard was at the front desk with police officers. At about the same time, they determined that there was an outstanding felony warrant for Hutchinson's arrest.

Because the hotel records indicated that "Paul Dolmer" was staying in Room 321, the officers decided to call that room first. Two of the officers arrived at Room 321 just as Thomas Roberts and Mary Miller came out of the room. When he saw the police, Roberts stated that he knew "these people were bad news" because one of them had offered him $100 to switch rooms. The officers entered the room and conducted a cursory search to determine whether anyone else was present. During the brief sweep, they noticed a tray covered with the residue of a white powdery substance. The officers then walked Roberts and Miller backwards to the end of the hall, placed them in chairs, and handcuffed them. Because Roberts did not match the physical description of Hutchinson, they then placed a call to Room 306. In response to the call, Hutchinson and several others emerged from the room. The officers then entered and found several weapons in plain view.

Approximately twenty minutes after Miller and Roberts had left Room 321, Miller and Hutchinson, who had identified himself as Mr. Dolmer, consented to a further search of both hotel rooms. In the wall safe in Room 306, the officers found manila envelopes containing a white, powdery substance and a large quantity of cash. In the wall safe in Room 321, they found a black zippered case containing a number of small plastic bags and two hypodermic syringes. Also in Room 321, the officers found a wallet that contained identification belonging to Mary Miller and a white paper bindle containing a white powdery substance, later determined to be methamphetamine. The officers then placed Roberts, Hutchinson, and the others under arrest. At that time, Roberts waived his Miranda rights and stated that he had observed a yellowish-white powdery substance in Room 306 and that the occupants of Room 306 had approached him in a forceful manner and offered him $150 to $200 to switch rooms. He later stated that Hutchinson had given him and Miller money to rent the two rooms...

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