Jennings v. Commonwealth, 2021-CA-1339-MR

CourtCourt of Appeals of Kentucky
Writing for the CourtCOMBS, JUDGE
PartiesDAVID JENNINGS APPELLANT v. COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY APPELLEE
Docket Number2021-CA-1339-MR
Decision Date23 September 2022

DAVID JENNINGS APPELLANT
v.

COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY APPELLEE

No. 2021-CA-1339-MR

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

September 23, 2022


NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

APPEAL FROM KENTON CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE GREGORY M. BARTLETT, JUDGE ACTION NO. 19-CR-00470

BRIEFS FOR APPELLANT: Aaron Reed Baker Frankfort, Kentucky

BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Daniel Cameron Attorney General of Kentucky Courtney J. Hightower Assistant Attorney General Frankfort, Kentucky

BEFORE: COMBS, McNEILL, AND K. THOMPSON, JUDGES.

OPINION

COMBS, JUDGE

In this criminal case, Appellant, David Jennings, appeals from the denial of his motion to suppress. After our review, we affirm.

On April 11, 2019, a Kenton County grand jury indicted Jennings on one count of trafficking in a controlled substance in the first degree, more than four grams of cocaine, 2nd offense.

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On April 6, 2021, Jennings filed a motion to suppress. The trial court conducted a suppression hearing and heard arguments of counsel on April 20, and on June 2, 2021. By order entered June 15, 2021, the trial court denied Jennings's motion as follows:

On February 8, 2019, Detective Ryan Malone was watching a house on Greenup Street based upon a citizen's complaint about drug activity. Det. Malone was parked on E. 9th Street just east of Greenup Street, when a red Chrysler pulled up . . . Ultimately, the red vehicle parked on E. 8th Street just east of Greenup Street. The engine was running, but no one exited the vehicle.
Det. Malone observed a black vehicle pull alongside the red Chrysler. . . . [A] woman exited the black car and entered the passenger side of the red Chrysler for just a brief second. She then exited the Chrysler and got back into her car, grabbed a hoodie, and returned to the red Chrysler. The woman remained in the red Chrysler for approximately 10 minutes before returning to her vehicle. Believing a narcotics transaction might have just occurred, the Detective called another officer to follow the black car.
When the red car pulled away from the curb, Det. Malone followed it. The Detective observed the red Chrysler make a turn without signaling. At that point, the Detective called for a marked police vehicle to initiate a traffic stop. The red vehicle made another lane change without signaling. A traffic stop was initiated by a uniformed officer . . . . Det. Malone requested a canine unit based upon his observations and suspicion that a drug transaction had occurred.
Officer Matthews of the Covington Police Department stopped the Defendant's vehicle and approached the Defendant. He asked him a series of
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questions, including whether he could produce his vehicle registration and insurance. The Defendant was never able to produce an insurance card. The length of time Officer Matthews took with the Defendant was approximately 16 minutes. During that time, a canine unit came to the scene and alerted on the Defendant's vehicle. As a result of the canine officer alerting on the presence of drugs in the Defendant's car, a search was conducted with drugs being found.

The trial court concluded that the police had probable cause to stop Jennings's car for a traffic violation and that once the canine unit alerted on the car, there was probable cause for a search. The court also found that the length of Jennings's "detention following the stop for the traffic violation was not excessive in that the canine unit was on the scene almost immediately following the Defendant's stop for the traffic violation."

After his motion to suppress was denied, Jennings entered a conditional guilty plea to first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance (more than four grams of cocaine), second offense; he received a sentence of ten years.

Jennings now appeals. "In reviewing a trial...

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