State v. Buckmaster

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtCrow, P.J., and Shrum; John E. Parrish
Citation15 S.W.3d 774
Parties(Mo.App. S.D. 2000) State of Missouri, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Ronnie Buckmaster, Defendant-Appellant. 22960 0
Decision Date25 April 2000

15 S.W.3d 774 (Mo.App. S.D. 2000)
State of Missouri, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Ronnie Buckmaster, Defendant-Appellant.
22960
Missouri Court of Appeals Southern District
04/25/2000

Appeal From: Circuit Court of Greene County, Hon. J. Miles Sweeney

Counsel for Appellant: Nancy A. McKerrow

Counsel for Respondent: Gregory L. Barnes

Opinion Summary: None

Crow, P.J., and Shrum, J., concur.

John E. Parrish, Judge

Ronnie Buckmaster (defendant)1 was convicted, following a jury trial, of attempt to manufacture a controlled substance. See sections 564.011 and 195.211, RSMo 1994. Defendant's only claim of error is that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress statements made to law enforcement officers and in admitting those statements in evidence. This court affirms.

Springfield, Missouri, police officers Grant Dorrell and Ben King went to the intersection of Brown and Calhoun Streets in Springfield after another police officer reported an odor of ether at that location. The officers suspected the source of the odor was an attempt to produce methamphetamine. When the officers arrived, they smelled a strong odor of ether. Officer Dorrell testified, "As we started walking south towards 1233 North Brown, the odor became very intense and much stronger." They determined the odor was coming from a residence at that location.

The officers approached the east side of the residence where there was a screened-in porch and side door. There was a chain link fence around the premises. They observed a man who resided there, James Gardner, and defendant. The officers also saw Cheri Waters2 and her two children just south of the residence on its east side. There was evidence that Ms. Waters also resided at the premises.

Mr. Gardner was asked to step outside the fence. Officer Dorrell told him they were investigating the odor of ether; that he believed it could be coming from methamphetamine production. Defendant was on the porch of the residence when Officer Dorrell began talking to Gardner. While the officer was talking to Mr. Gardner, defendant went into the house.

Officer Dorrell asked Mr. Gardner's permission to search the house. Gardner consented. Officer Dorrell told the trial court this occurred "three or four minutes after the defendant had went [sic] inside the house."

Officer King testified about what he observed at the Gardner residence. He was asked the following questions and gave the following answers:

Q. Prior to Mr. Gardner coming out to meet with you and Corporal Dorrell, where was the defendant?

A. He was standing just to the south of the door that went into the porch area of the house.

Q. And as Corporal Dorrell and you began to speak with Mr. Gardner, what did the defendant do?

A. I looked back towards the house and that's when I saw [defendant] go into the porch area and into the house itself.

. . .

Q. What happened next?

A. Corporal Dorrell had received consent from Mr. Gardner for us to search his residence for a lab or any illegal drugs that might be inside, so we proceeded over to the east door that [defendant] had gone into.

Q. When you got to that door, what did you find?

A. I tried the door and the door had been locked from the inside.

Q. What did you do then?

A. Began knocking on the door and yelling for [defendant] to open the door.

Q. Did he come immediately?

A. No, ma'am.

Q. How long was it?

A. Three to four minutes.

Q. Eventually, though, he did come to the door?

A. Yes ma'am.

After defendant opened the door, he came out to the porch. He was searched for weapons and drugs. None were found.

Officer King entered the residence. He told the trial court that he found numerous items he believed were involved in the manufacture of methamphetamine. He found an empty bottle of denatured alcohol, numerous mason jars soaking in the bathtub, and numerous syringes that had been thrown in a fireplace in the living room.

There was a utility area at the back of the house. A back door opened into another covered porch. As Officer King opened the back door, the odor of ether was very strong. He found an "active acid generator" in a Surge bottle on the corner of the porch. He explained that an active acid generator was "the combination of rock salt and liquid Drano." Officer King explained that an acid generator was necessary in the production of methamphetamine; that "[i]t's used right before the ammonia anhydrous, so it would be the third step from the final product."

Officer King found a can of liquid Drano and coffee filters on a shelf above the generator. He explained the significance of the liquid Drano. "The liquid Drano was what was in the Surge bottle along with rock salt, and then the coffee filters are usually used both in the very first process and the final process to separate pills from the liquids."

Officer King found other equipment in the back yard and garage he believed to be acid generators. He found four 24-count packets of pseudoephedrine pills in a bedroom in the house. He described the pseudoephedrine pills as "[t]he main ingredient for the starting process of manufacturing."

Officer Dorrell remained outside with James Gardner, defendant, Cheri Waters and her two children while Officer King searched the residence. The three adults were handcuffed. Officer Dorrell estimated Officer King was in the residence five to ten minutes.

When Officer King came back outside, he told Officer Dorrell he found evidence of a drug lab and described what he had seen. Officer Dorrell read the three adults their rights then interviewed them separately. He interviewed Gardner first, then defendant. Officer Dorrell testified that he advised defendant of his Miranda rights; that defendant acknowledged he understood those rights. Defendant did not request an attorney. Officer Dorrell told the trial court:

He told me that James Gardner had been cooking meth. When Corporal McCullouch [sic] had driven by, and I guess Corporal McCullouch [sic] had said hi to him out the window, and as Corporal McCullouch [sic] drove by he told me that James Gardner went inside, dumped some liquid ephedrine down the sink.[3] And he also told me that there was another adult male out trying to steal some anhydrous ammonia so that Gardner could finish off the controlled substance.

Defendant, Gardner and Waters were arrested and taken to the city jail. After they arrived they were interviewed separately by Officer Daron Wilkins. Officer King was present at defendant's interview. Officer Wilkins read the Miranda rights to defendant. He signed a written waiver of those rights.

At trial Officer King was asked what he heard defendant tell Officer Wilkins. Officer King stated that defendant said he and Gardner had been "attempting to finish off what they called old base." Officer King understood that to mean that Gardner and defendant "had some methamphetamine in the process and that they were just finishing off what they had left." Officer King...

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1 practice notes
  • Berlin v. Pickett, No. WD 60644.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 28 March 2003
    ...that the case must be remanded only if the failure of the trial court to explain its judgment interferes with appellate review, Smith, 15 S.W.3d at 774, which could benefit either party. Most importantly, Rule 84.13(b) is not applicable; this case is not being reversed, only remanded. See H......
1 cases
  • Berlin v. Pickett, No. WD 60644.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 28 March 2003
    ...that the case must be remanded only if the failure of the trial court to explain its judgment interferes with appellate review, Smith, 15 S.W.3d at 774, which could benefit either party. Most importantly, Rule 84.13(b) is not applicable; this case is not being reversed, only remanded. See H......

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