State v. Ford

Decision Date22 July 2014
Docket NumberNo. ED 99980.,ED 99980.
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Plaintiff/Respondent, v. Michael FORD, Defendant/Appellant.
CourtMissouri Court of Appeals

445 S.W.3d 113

STATE of Missouri, Plaintiff/Respondent
Michael FORD, Defendant/Appellant.

No. ED 99980.

Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, Division Four.

July 22, 2014.
Motion for Rehearing and/or Transfer to Supreme Court Denied Sept. 2, 2014.

Application for Transfer Denied Oct. 28, 2014.

445 S.W.3d 116

Lisa Stroup, St. Louis, MO, for Appellant.

Mary Moore, Jefferson City, MO, for Respondent.

LISA S. VAN AMBURG, Presiding Judge.


Michael Ford appeals the trial court's judgment of conviction of one count each of first-degree robbery and armed criminal action.1 Ford contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress physical evidence seized by police at the scene of his arrest and incriminating statements he made thereafter. This Court disagrees. In this case, the police officer questioned Ford before the officer completed the stated purpose of his initial investigatory stop, and Ford's evasive answers provided the officer with reasonable suspicion to continue detaining him.


The following facts, stated in the light most favorable to the verdict, are not in dispute.2 On October 11, 2011, at approximately 2:00 in the morning, Officer Trevor Voss of the St. Louis County Police Department was on a “routine patrol” when he observed a white Chevrolet Malibu containing three occupants drive by his patrol car. The officer later testified that he began following the Malibu because it had no license plates and was in an area where “[s]tolen cars are a problem.” While driving behind the Malibu, the officer observed a piece of paper in the rear window which he thought might have been a temporary tag. Officer Voss stated that he was not able to read the tag, however, due to poor street lighting and the tinted rear window of the Malibu. The officer later testified that a “common tactic ... for people to steal vehicles is to just put something up there [in the window].” To investigate, Officer Voss activated the lights and siren of his patrol car, prompting the driver of the vehicle to pull over.

As the officer approached the vehicle on foot, he saw that the Malibu's temporary tag was from Illinois and that it was current. He wrote down the information on the tag and approached the driver's window. The officer informed the driver, Brishae Deal, of the reason for his stop and requested her identification. Deal told the officer she had recently bought the car and began searching her purse for identification. While Officer Voss waited for Deal to produce her information, he requested

445 S.W.3d 117

and received identification from the front seat passenger, Rayford Marion. Deal then informed the officer that she could not find her identification, but told him her identifying information, which he wrote down.

The officer next asked Ford, who was sitting in the back seat, for identification. Ford stated his name was “Kevin Ford” and quickly told Officer Voss his date of birth was “1–95–64.” The officer testified that he understood “there aren't 95 days in January,” and later, “when [Ford] said January 95th, 1964,” the officer had a “pretty good idea that he was lying to me,” so he asked Ford to repeat his birthday. The second time Ford stated that his date of birth was “1–5–1994.” When asked a third time, Ford stated his date of birth was “1–5–1991.” Ford also claimed ignorance of his own social security number. At trial, the officer testified that Ford did not make eye contact and appeared nervous during this initial exchange. The officer testified that due to Ford's inconsistent answers he could “tell something [was] not right” because “everybody knows their date of birth.” The officer also noticed a black leather purse on the seat next to Ford. The officer wrote down the information Ford gave and returned to his patrol car to verify the identities of the Malibu occupants. He also radioed for assistance, because he “believe[d] that [Ford was] lying to him.”

The assist cars arrived while Officer Voss was checking the vehicle occupants' records. The officer confirmed Deal's and Marion's identifying information, but found no record for a “Kevin” Ford. As a result, Officer Voss, along with two other officers, proceeded “straight to the driver-side rear door” and requested Ford step out of the vehicle because, the officer stated, it was “obvious” that Ford had lied. As Ford stepped out, Officer Voss noticed that the black purse had been moved to the floor, further heightening the officer's suspicions. He confronted Ford, and accused him of lying about his identity. Ford admitted he had lied and then provided his real name, a valid date of birth, and his social security number. Officer Voss handcuffed Ford and asked him why he had lied. Ford replied he thought he might have outstanding warrants. Officer Voss placed Ford in the back of his patrol car and ran a record check, but found no outstanding warrants.

The officer then approached the remaining occupants, Deal and Marion, to inquire about the purse in the back seat. The officer requested permission from Deal to search the Malibu. Deal consented and Officer Voss began his search by looking through the purse in the back seat. Inside, the officer found a gun along with various identification cards of a woman, Y.C.

Officer Voss returned to his patrol car to question Ford about the contents of the purse. After the officer read Ford his Miranda3 rights, Ford indicated he wished to talk. Ford initially denied any knowledge of the purse. After additional questioning, however, he claimed to have found the purse by a dumpster in the City of St. Louis. Officer Voss informed Ford that he was under arrest for “interfering with the duties of a police officer” and “unlawful use of a weapon.” Before transporting Ford to the local precinct, Officer Voss ran a record-check on the Malibu's temporary tags, which confirmed their validity. He then informed the remaining occupants of the Malibu that they were “free to leave.” Officer Voss estimated that approximately forty-five minutes had passed from the time he initially stopped

445 S.W.3d 118

the vehicle until he informed Deal and Marion they could leave.

At the police station, Ford again waived his Miranda rights and agreed to answer questions. During the interrogation, Ford admitted robbing Y.C. at gunpoint, and taking the purse that Officer Voss later seized from the Malibu's back seat.

The State charged Ford with one count each of robbery in the first degree and armed criminal action. Ford waived his right to a jury trial. Before trial, Ford filed a motion to suppress the physical evidence that Officer Voss seized during his search of the Malibu, as well as Ford's subsequent incriminating statements. Ford argued that Officer Voss unlawfully expanded the purpose of the stop by detaining Ford and the other occupants of the car, after the officer had already observed the valid temporary tags. The trial court took Ford's motion to suppress with the case, and denied the motion at the conclusion of the trial. The court found Ford guilty and entered a judgment of conviction of one count each of first-degree robbery and armed criminal action. The court sentenced Ford to concurrent terms of ten years for first-degree robbery and three years for armed criminal action. Ford timely appeals.


On review of a court's denial of a motion to suppress, “[t]his Court considers the evidence presented at both the suppression hearing and at trial to determine whether sufficient evidence exists in the record to support the trial court's ruling.” State v. Lovelady, 432 S.W.3d 187, 190 (Mo. banc 2014) (quoting State v. Grayson, 336 S.W.3d 138, 142 (Mo. banc 2011) ). “We will not reverse the trial court's decision on a motion to suppress unless it is clearly erroneous.” State v. Stevens, 845 S.W.2d 124, 128 (Mo.App.E.D.1993) (citing State v. Milliorn, 794 S.W.2d 181, 184 (Mo. banc 1990) ). “This Court reviews a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress in the light most favorable to the ruling, disregarding any contrary evidence or adverse inferences.” State v. Hillman, 417 S.W.3d 239, 246 (Mo. banc 2013). We review the court's findings “only to see if they are supported by substantial evidence.” State v. Thomas, 989 S.W.2d 605, 606 (Mo.App. E.D.1999) (citing State v. Stevens, 845 S.W.2d 124, 128 (Mo.App. E.D.1993) ). “Whether reasonable suspicion exists is a question of law that this Court reviews de novo.” Lovelady, 432 S.W.3d at 190 (citing State v. Norfolk, 366 S.W.3d 528, 534 (Mo. banc 2012) ).


In his sole point, Ford contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress and allowing the admission into evidence of: (1) the purse; (2) the contents of the purse, including the gun found in the purse; (3) testimony regarding the purse and its contents; and (4) Ford's subsequent statements, in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution as well as Article 1, § 15 of the Missouri Constitution. We disagree.

“The Fourth Amendment protects the right of citizens to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and it applies to...

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2 cases
  • State v. Ford, ED 99980.
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 28 Octubre 2014
    ...445 S.W.3d 113STATE of Missouri, Plaintiff/Respondent,v.Michael FORD, Defendant/Appellant.No. ED 99980.Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, Division Four.July 22, 2014Motion for Rehearing and/or Transfer to Supreme Court Denied Sept. 2, 2014Application for Transfer Denied Oct. 28, A......
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