State v. Lancaster, 48633

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Writing for the CourtMOELLER, JUSTICE
PartiesSTATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. CLARENCE EDWARD LANCASTER, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket Number48633
Decision Date01 November 2022

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,


No. 48633

Supreme Court of Idaho

November 1, 2022

Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Ada County. Jason D. Scott, District Judge.

The orders of the district court are affirmed.

Eric Don Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for Appellant. Justin Curtis argued.

Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for Respondent. Kenneth Jorgensen argued.


Defendant Clarence Lancaster was apprehended by police for questioning concerning several ATM thefts in Boise, Idaho. He was later charged and ultimately entered conditional guilty pleas to two felonies: burglary and grand theft. This appeal arises from the denial of his motion to suppress. Lancaster argues that his confession and other evidence should have been suppressed because the arresting officers violated Idaho Code section 19-608 by failing to tell Lancaster the basis of his arrest. He maintains that this statutory violation renders his arrest an unreasonable seizure under Article 1, Section 17 of the Idaho Constitution. He also argues that the district judge abused its discretion at sentencing by failing to strike an attachment to the Presentence Investigation Report. For the following reasons, we affirm the district court.

I. Factual and Procedural Background


In the spring of 2019, three ATM machines were stolen from different locations around Boise, Idaho. These crimes took place over the course of a month. Police officers investigating the thefts suspected a single criminal-a serial ATM thief-to be the culprit. During the investigation of the third ATM theft, police obtained security footage of the suspect's vehicle: an Enterprise rental car with a Utah license plate rented to Clarence Lancaster. Police also connected Lancaster's rental vehicle to a series of vending machine break-ins that occurred at multiple locations across the Boise State University ("BSU") campus around the same time.

On May 26, 2019, investigating officers relayed descriptions of Lancaster and his rental car to all patrol vehicles in the area. Later that same day, Officer Brek Orton saw a driver in a vehicle matching the descriptions. While the vehicle had no visible license plates that Officer Orton could see, matching Utah plates from the ATM thefts were later found partially obscured in the vehicle's back window. Officer Orton followed the vehicle to the parking lot of an Albertson's grocery store near BSU.

As the driver exited the vehicle and began walking towards the store's entrance, Officer Orton called out Lancaster's name ("Clarence, stop! You-Clarence!"). The man told Officer Orton his name was "Wally Johnson" and asked why he was calling him "Clarence." Officer Orton replied, "Do you, do you want to play the nice guy or do you want to lie to me and get a, a criminal charge?"

When Officer Orton asked for identification, Lancaster began to lead him back to his vehicle. Lancaster told Officer Orton he did not own the vehicle but was renting it from Enterprise. At that point, Officer Orton instructed Lancaster to place his hands behind his back. While handcuffing Lancaster, Officer Orton twice asked, "Why are you lying to me about who you are?" Lancaster responded: "Now what are you looking for me for?" To answer, Officer Orton simply told Lancaster, "I think you probably know."

On reaching the rental vehicle, Officer Orton began to search Lancaster's pockets and found a credit card bearing Lancaster's name. Lancaster admitted that he gave the officer a false name earlier and said, "If you're looking for me, then that means I'm already in trouble." Officer Orton replied, "There's a reason why I'm looking for you, and we'll explain that all to you when we get you up to the station." About this time, Officer Lane, a K9 officer, and Sergeant Rogers each arrived on the scene.


Lancaster asked all the police officers questions to "figure out what [was] going on." They repeatedly told Lancaster he was going to the police station for questioning by detectives, but they never specified why. While the officers retrieved Lancaster's medications from his vehicle, Officer Lane took Lancaster to a side area. Lancaster again said, "So what's going on?" Officer Lane answered, "Well, there's going to be somebody who wants to come talk to you. Okay? Well, and actually we're probably going to go somewhere else to talk to this person."

While apart from Officer Lane and Lancaster, Sergeant Rogers asked Officer Orton about the charges for Lancaster's arrest. Officer Orton said, "That burg. Basically for burg." "Anything else?" asked Officer Rogers. "No," said Officer Orton. "I mean he tried to ditch me but then he lied to me, so I can . . . ." His answer trailed off on the body camera footage as Officer Rogers radioed other police, but Officer Orton then returned to Officer Lane and Lancaster. Again, Lancaster asked Officer Orton what was going on. Officer Orton's response to Lancaster was: "We're going to take you up to our police station and there's a detective who wants to speak with you. Okay? He'll be able to advise you on everything that's going on." A couple of minutes later, while waiting under some shelter in the rain, Lancaster told Officer Lane, "So you can't tell me what's going on?" Officer Lane responded, "I don't know what's going on . . . I just run a dog, I'm a dog guy," and repeated that a detective wanted to talk to Lancaster.

Officer Wilson then arrived on the scene to escort Lancaster to the police station for questioning. After putting Lancaster in the back of her police vehicle, Officer Wilson asked Officer Orton and Officer Lane where she was supposed to take Lancaster and whether they had warrants for his arrest. They both responded that Lancaster was "the ATM thief," and told Officer Wilson to take Lancaster to the station to meet with investigating detectives for questioning. Lancaster was in the vehicle and not privy to the conversation. However, en route to the station, Lancaster said to Officer Wilson, "You don't know why I was stopped either." Officer Wilson responded that she "had an idea" but did not want "to talk out of turn" when it was not her case.

When the interviewing detectives met with Lancaster at the police station, he claimed he still did not know why he was being held. The two officers then read Lancaster his Miranda rights and began to question him on both the Boise ATM thefts and the vending machine break-ins on the BSU campus. While Lancaster initially denied knowledge of any crimes, he eventually admitted to being the person depicted in the security camera footage and confessed to stealing the three ATMs. Lancaster also told police where he hid the stolen machines in a field of tall grass.


Per Lancaster's directions, police recovered all three broken ATMs in the field, along with additional evidence hidden near some railroad tracks. However, Lancaster never confessed responsibility for the BSU burglaries.

Following Lancaster's confessions, police transported him to the Ada County Jail on three charges of burglary-one for each ATM theft. The State later added four more burglary charges for the additional vending machine break-ins that had occurred on the BSU campus between May 22 and 25, 2019. Lancaster moved to suppress his confession and other evidence resulting from his arrest, arguing police violated Idaho Code section 19-608 because he was never told the basis of his arrest until after the confession occurred. The State argued that Lancaster was not arrested "until after he had confessed at the police station, at which point he was told why he was being arrested." The district court disagreed. It determined that a de facto arrest occurred, at the very latest, when Officer Wilson placed the handcuffed Lancaster in her police vehicle for involuntary transportation to the police station. The district court likewise concluded that the officers violated Idaho Code section 19-608 by failing to give any reason for the arrest over the several hours between Officer Orton's initial contact and the conclusion of detectives' questioning at the police station. However, the district court also determined that the violation of Idaho Code section 19-608 did not rise to a constitutional level that would require suppression of the evidence. Therefore, the district court denied Lancaster's motion.

Lancaster filed a motion for reconsideration, which the district court denied. Following that decision, Lancaster entered a conditional plea agreement. He pleaded guilty to one count of burglary and one count of grand theft, in exchange for binding concurrent sentences of ten years determinate, with 1.5 years fixed, while preserving his right to appeal the denied suppression motion. The court entered Lancaster's guilty pleas at a hearing and subsequently ordered a presentence investigation report ("PSI").

Following the PSI's preparation and prior to his sentencing hearing, Lancaster filed a new motion with the district court to correct various alleged errors in the prepared PSI. The PSI included two prior PSIs as attachments: one prepared in connection with a 2009 Utah case and another from a 2015 federal case. He claimed the Idaho PSI contained several prejudicial statements and various inaccuracies regarding his criminal history. The district court reviewed each of the alleged errors at the sentencing hearing, accepting some and rejecting others, while also finding there were some discrepancies between the Utah and Federal PSIs in regards to


criminal history. The district court also determined that it would use the Federal PSI as the authoritative source for Lancaster's criminal history and not consider the inconsistencies in the Utah PSI. Following the sentencing hearing, the Idaho Department of...

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